Pattaya Daily News

29 July 2008 :: 16:07:22 pm 43198

New Graft Scandal Threatens Thai Government Officials

The Thai government of Samak Sundravej looks increasingly shaky as yet another graft scandal, this time over an illegal lottery, threatens to unseat yet more of his top ministers.
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The ex-Thai foreign minister, Noppadon Pattama’s, resigned recently, followed increasing political pressure involving the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site. The Preah Vihear temple’s world heritage status caused political problems for Noppadon as the opposition, senators and street protest accused him of mishandling the case. Two other top officials have also forced out of office by previous court decisions, PPP deputy leader Yongyut Tiyapairat and health minister Chiya Sasomsub.

Now, yet another three ministers of Samak Sundravej , the present finance minister, Surapong Suebwonglee, labour minister Uraiwan Thienthong and deputy transport minister, Anurak Jureemas might all have to be replaced. As it stands, they will be suspended from their posts, due to having been named in the lawsuit. Messrs. Surapong, Uraiwan and Anurak were all members of Thaksin’s government at the time of the alleged scandal in 2003.

This new development is the direct result of a case brought before the Thai Supreme Court involving an illegal lottery in which the deposed prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and 46 other people are accused of having involvements in.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear how the previous Thaksin government introduced the new lottery scheme maintaining it would eliminate illegal lottery operators. However, the way the new competition was managed and how its profits were used proved contentious, especially when Thaksin proposed using lottery cash to fund his failed 2004 bid for Liverpool FC.

The Thaksin scheme allegedly denied the government nearly Bt37 billion baht (1.1 billion dollars) in revenue.

Political Analysts and local newspaper editorials have speculated that a series of legal defeats could force Samak into a major cabinet reshuffle. But, the real question is will there soon be enough cabinet members left in Samak Sundravej’s government left to govern the country

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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