Sunday, November 8, 2009

Support for govt rockets after protest

Most Thais oppose Thaksin giving advice
Published: 7/11/2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

The popularity of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has soared after its diplomatic protest against Phnom Penh's appointment of convicted Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser, an opinion poll has found.

And most Thais have told another poll they don't want Thaksin to offer advice to Cambodia.

Up to 68.8% of 3,709 respondents in 21 provinces have thrown their support behind the government, a huge increase on the 23.3% who backed it in September, according to an Abac poll conducted by Assumption University, between Oct 25 and Thursday.

In northern provinces, including Thaksin's home town of Chiang Mai, and northeastern provinces, most people (64.6%) support the government.

In the Northeast, the opposition Puea Thai Party's stronghold, 53.1% support the government over the Cambodia issue. Thais believe Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen places his relationship with Thaksin over the importance of national ties with Thailand, said Abac Poll Research Centre director Noppadol Kannikar.

Phnom Penh appointed Thaksin an economic adviser on Nov 4.

In protest, Thailand recalled its ambassador to Phnom Penh on Thursday.

While some diplomats say Thailand over-reacted and that the row threatens Asean's stability, most Thais back the government's response.

The Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found Thaksin guilty of a conflict of interest in the Ratchadaphisek land purchase case in 2003, but Cambodia argued the charges against Thaksin were politically motivated.

Thais, however, still trusted the judicial system, Mr Noppadol said.

"The dispute is good for the government's support."

Meanwhile, a Dusit poll, conducted by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University over the last two days, found 69.2% of people sampled countrywide oppose Thaksin acting as adviser to Cambodia, which they believe could escalate tensions between the two countries.

Many people (33.12%) also wanted Mr Abhisit to review all agreements which Thailand had made with Cambodia, the poll says.

The New Politics Party, formerly the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy, denounced Mr Hun Sen's move.

It was an attempt to interfere in Thailand's internal affairs, which could also "ravage the verdict of a Thai court", said the party secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila.

The anti-Thaksin group of 40 senators said the government should take the opportunity to revoke a memorandum of understanding in 2001 and an agreement in 2003 on maritime borders with Cambodia, reached when the Thaksin administration was in power, and to warn Thai businessmen against investment in Cambodia.

The government says it is reviewing all agreements with Cambodia, including the maritime one.

Senator Paiboon Nititawan also asked Thaksin whether he is still Thai. He warned Thaksin against serving two masters, which could never end happily.

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