Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thai Political Crisis Drags In Asean Neighbours

October 28, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By D. Arul Rajoo

BANGKOK, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- The prolonged domestic political crisis in Thailand is now taking on a new shape, with neighbouring countries being sucked into the conflict between rival parties.

Just days after the leaders of Cambodia and Thailand clashed over treatment of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that overshadowed the 15th Asean Summit in Hua Hin, other developments connected to Thaksin had somewhat brought Thailand's neighbours into the spotlight.

Surapong Towijakchaikul,a Pheu Thai member of parliament linked to Thaksin, made a claim that one of the Asean leaders had stayed in a house belonging to Thaksin while attending the summit.

The Thai government did not deny or confirm the allegation. But government spokesman Panithan Watanayakorn told the local media that the host had prepared accommodation for all leaders, but it was up to them to decide on their private arrangements.

The same leader was also said to have skipped the opening ceremony of the summit and the launching of the region's first human rights body, despite arriving in the seaside resort a day earlier.

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya had played down the particular leader's absence from the opening ceremony, saying that he needed to rest after his long visits to far away countries prior to the Hua Hin summit.

Newly-elected Pheu Thai chairman and former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh also announced that he would visit Malaysia soon and planned to meet Malaysian leaders as well as travel to Myanmar.

Last week, Chavalit's visit to Phonm Penh and his subsequent meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen caused consternation in Thailand when the latter alleged that Thaksin had been treated unfairly.

Hun Sen also shocked the media here when he said that he would offer Thaksin the post of economic advisor to Cambodia.

The infamous pro-government yellow shirt movement in Thailand has vowed to demonstrate in front of the Cambodian embassy here next week.

Nattawut Saikua, a leader of the red-shirted anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), said Chavalit's visit would help forge closer ties between Malaysia and Thailand.

"This visit is good for Thailand, especially in finding solutions to the southern Thai problem," he said.

Thai Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesman, Thani Thongpakdi, said he believed that the Malaysian government would know that Chavalit's trip was a private one.

Pheu Thai, formed late last year by Thaksin supporters after their previous People's Power Party (PPP) was dissolved by the court for election fraud, has intensified its campaign to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva or at least force him to call for fresh elections.

The red-shirted UDD plans to hold another rally in the capital probably next month after its planned concert in Khao Yai to raise funds for the movement.

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