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Pattaya Daily News

17 February 2007 :: 20:02:25 pm 29713

Thai FM yet to clarify military leader‘s remarks to Singapore

BANGKOK, Feb 17- Thailand‘s Foreign Minister declined to comment on Friday‘s remarks made by Council for National Security chairman that he wanted to recapture Thailand‘s satellites sold to Singapore by a firm owned by family of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but conceded that bilateral relations are now being tested.
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Speaking during a live television broadcast Saturday, Nitya Pibulsonggram said he did not have details on yesterday’s remarks by Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin but that he had followed the issue through the media and the remarks should be clarified first. 
He admitted that relations between Thailand and Singapore are still being tested. 
On Friday, Gen. Sonthi vowed to regain control of the ‘Thai’ satellites operated by Shin Satellite Public Co., Ltd. Shin Satellite, the operator of Thaicom 1, 2 and 5, and the broadband iPSTAR satellites, is now owned by Temasek Holdings, an investment arm of the Singapore government. 

The Shinawatra family sold a controlling stake in Shin Corp — of which Shin Satellite was a subsidiary — to Temasek Holdings for US$1.9 billion under a tax-free deal in January 2006, triggering months of street protests that eventually led to a military coup d’etat last September. 

Singapore’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Friday that the city state was surprised at what Gen. Sonthi said and would wait for the Thai government to clarify the remarks.

“Singapore is surprised at what Council for National Security Chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin was reported to have said about getting back Thai national assets which have been sold to foreigners. We should wait for the Thai Government to clarify what those remarks meant,” the statement said. 

Gen. Sonthi had earlier expressed concern that Singapore would use the satellites to eavedrop on secret Thailand military communications. Singapore has strongly denied the accusation. 

Relations between the two countries worsened after Mr. Thaksin, ousted in the September 19 coup d’etat, met Singapore Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar during his visit last month. That resulted in Bangkok’s cancellation of an invitation to Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, saying Singapore is insensitive to the Thai government’s feelings. 

Singapore said the meeting was private and had no political implications. 

 Meanwhile, Thai government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said the Foreign Ministry will be assigned to clarify Gen Sonthi’s remarks if they are needed by Singapore government. 
Mr. Yongyuth said he was optimistic that the remarks would not affect relations between the two neighboring countries.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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