Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attends a censure debate held at Thai House of Representatives in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 28, 2012. Thai House of Representatives voted on Wednesday in support of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and three other ministers who were targeted during the censure debate. (Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak)
by Surasak Tumcharoen
BANGKOK, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Thai government under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has passed a major hurdle in parliament, given an overwhelming vote of confidence on Wednesday after a tedious, three-day censure debate.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives cast 308 votes in support of Yingluck, compared to 159 votes against the lady prime minister.
A few ministers of the Yingluck cabinet have also survived the censure bid, given votes of confidence which surpassed 247 - the minimum of votes needed to support them, which accounts for one half of a total of the Lower House's legislators, currently amounting to 493.
Several MPs of the Bhum Jai Thai Party, which currently remains in the opposition bloc, also gave their votes of confidence, but the party spokesman categorically dismissed speculation that his party was merely doing so in hopes for the chance to join the coalition government led by the Puea Thai (for Thais) Party in the future.
Yingluck who appeared jubilant at the results of the votes said she will continually carry out the government's policies in the interests of the people and the country now that her administration has been given such overwhelming support from the legislative branch.
Over the past 15-months time, the opposition Democrat Party had focused on the performances of the Yingluck government and alleged that the lady prime minister and three of her ministers had been involved in corruption and violation of laws pertaining to flood relief funds, rice pledging scheme and arms procurement plans, among others.
The Democrats lodged the no-confidence motion which was followed by heated censure debate from Sunday until Tuesday focusing on those allegations under which they also filed an impeachment bid against Defense Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat, Deputy Interior Minister Chat Kuldilok and Yingluck.
The charges against the lady prime minister involved her alleged failures to keep government officials, including members of her cabinet, from perpetrating corruption or getting involved in graft scandals as well as her alleged inefficiencies in running the country.
Besides, Yingluck was alleged of tending to the vested interests of her brother, deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains in self-exile overseas following 2006's coup, rather than looking after the people's and national interests.
Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva charged that Yingluck had remained stand-offish from problems and completely failed to see to it that the 120 billion baht (4 billion U.S. dollars) funds for the government's relief missions following last year's critical flooding would be appropriated in transparent, cost-effective fashion.
Democrat MPs alleged that handsome kickbacks had been offered to certain persons "with close political ties" to the government in exchange for construction projects financed by the flood relief funds, including the dredging of canals and other waterways and the making of embankments in the inundated areas.
According to the former prime minister, the rice pledging scheme had been prone to corruption among rice traders and government personnel implementing the nationwide rice program while "ghost" firms were allegedly set up only to make undue gains from it.
"The government-to-government rice deals turned out to be a complete illusion because no rice was exported anywhere outside of the country. Over one million tons of rice was circulated among certain rice traders in connivance with some corrupt officials. They made huge profits selling the circulated rice to government agencies under the rice program," said Democrat MP Varong Dejkitvikrom during the censure debate.
The rice program offers the farmers 15,000 baht (500 U.S. dollars) for each ton of their rice which, according to the government, could possibly sell for up to 700 U.S. dollars a ton in the world markets.
In addition, chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanavisit charged that Yingluck had promptly served Thaksin's interests by having a passport issued and visas arranged for him by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and allegedly failed to have his rank as police lieutenant general revoked, following 2009's ruling of the Supreme Court which sentenced him in absentia to a two-years jail term pertaining to a land grab lawsuit.
The lady prime minister categorically dismissed all allegations of the Democrat MPs, saying she had never interfered into the affairs of any government agency only to do undue favors for a particular person, especially her globetrotting brother.
"I've never been stand-offish from problems and I've remained responsible. I've distributed my executive powers to ministers of my cabinet and see to it that they will get things done appropriately and effectively," said the prime minister during the censure debate.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who was among the cabinet ministers under censure, confirmed that the National Police had earlier concluded that Thaksin's police rank needed not be revoked, however.
Touching on the rice program, Yingluck insisted that it will be carried out because it brings up more incomes to the farmers who will have more purchasing power and help with the country's domestic consumption and sustainable economic growth.
Nevertheless, the lady prime minister admitted that some government officials and rice traders might possibly make undue gains from the rice program and suggested that the MPs deliver pieces of evidence to substantiate their corruption charges and help the government combat such malpractices.
"Let's give the farmers some more money from the rice program which was primarily designed to see the farmers making more incomes so they could contribute to the making of a sustainable economic growth," she said in parliament.
The prime minister reassured that an estimated 330 billion baht (11 billion U.S. dollars) had been spent by the government agencies so far to buy the rice at 15,000 baht (500 U.S. dollars) per ton but the chief opposition whip argued that only an average of 10,000 baht (333 U.S. dollars) had been offered to the farmers for each ton of their rice.
BANGKOK, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- A clear majority of people have confidence in Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, according to a survey revealed on Wednesday, Bangkok Post online reported.
Noppadon Kannika, director of Abac Poll at Assumption University, revealed on Wednesday that the pollster conducted a real time survey during the censure debate from Nov 26-27, seeking opinions from 1,231 people in Bangkok, 16 other provinces across the country. Full story
BANGKOK, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Thai House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and three other ministers who were targeted during the censure debate. Full story
BANGKOK, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 anti-government protesters have been detained for interogation after the clash with police on Saturday morning, authority said on Saturday.
National Security Council Secretary-General Paradorn Pattanatabut said in an interview with Thailand Public Braodcasting Service (TPBS) that about 100 supporters of the Pitak Siam group were detained after the clash with police at Makawan bridge as to ask why the protesters were eager to pass the route, while there were two other routes allowing to get into the rally venue at the Royal Plaza. Full story