Pattaya Daily News

14 March 2009 :: 19:03:28 pm 38751

Thai Pm Meets Britain’s Brown On Official Visit To London

BANGKOK, March 13- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva met with his British counterpart Gordon Brown during an official 3 day visit to the United Kingdom starting Friday.
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The discussion focused only on economic issues, with Britain to host the second G-20 Leaders’ Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy scheduled for April 2.

Thailand and Britain have agreed on stimulus measures, financial restructuring and opposition to protectionism policy.

Both premiers also agreed that Myanmar must cooperate with the United Nations to restore democracy in the country including releasing political prisoners. Other issues included illegal Rohingya migrants, lese majeste and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)’s role in the G 20 Summit.

Earlier on Friday, the Thai Premier along with Thai Finance Minister met with British investors including Tesco’s chief executive officer. Mr. Abhisit aimed to encourage them into expanding their business in Thailand in a variety of sectors, rather than just auto spare parts production.

Mr. Abhisit was also to speak on Thai politics at Oxford University on Saturday. – (TNA)

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Thai Oxford students to petition Thai PM

A group of Thai students at Oxford University plans to petition Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today, calling for a reform of the lese-majeste law and the Computer Crime Act while the PM visits the school to speak at his old college.

“The real problem lies in the ambiguous content [of the two laws], which can be interpreted in ways that contradict democratic principles,” the petition says.

The group, numbering about a dozen, including both undergraduates and post-graduates, will also urge Abhisit to reform the junta-sponsored charter, which they said gave too much power to non-elected entities “to intervene in politics”, as well as to the judiciary.

The group, which told The Nation they have been “discouraged” by the Thai Embassy in London from protesting, for fear of creating a “bad image”, will ask Abhisit to return power to the people as soon as possible.

They said the head of the Thai diplomatic mission in London “unfortunately is also an Oxonian, is more sympathetic to Democrat/PAD [People’s Alliance for Democracy] causes”.

Concerning the sustainable development of democracy in Thailand, we, a group of Thai students undersigned, petition the Prime Minister of Thailand, Abhisit Vejjajiva, upon his address at St John’s College on 14th March 2009**.

We propose:
1) That the freedom of speech and publication is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic system. The abuse of censorship laws, both the lèse majesté[1]and the Computer Crime Act [2] , is detrimental to people’s freedom to seek accountability from those in power. The argument that these laws apply equally to everyone, and therefore are fair, is irrelevant, since the real problem lies in their ambiguous contents, which can be interpreted in ways that contradict democratic principles. The Prime Minister should engage all concerned parties in reforming these laws immediately.

2) That the present B.E. 2550 Constitution is undemocratic in many parts. The Constitution opens ways for non-elected powers to intervene in politics, and allows the Judiciary too much power over the Legislature and the Executive. This has proved to be an impediment to a sustainable development of Thai democracy. Political parties have been dissolved easily, and thus have only limited chance to develop into stable political institutions. Now that the Prime Minister has the opportunity to push for a reform of the Constitution without being accused of having any conflict of interest, he should do so as soon as possible.

3) That the political events that preceded, and opened way for him to become Prime Minister, are still being remembered and questioned by Thai people. The swift dissolution of the then-governing party after the airport siege by protesters, and the military influence in setting up the new coalition government with a broken faction of Members of Parliament from the then-governing party<3><4>, have raised public skepticism towards his rise to premiership. The Prime Minister himself admitted in a CNN interview: “I?m not happy with the way things are. If I could choose my path, I would love to get into power after elections”<5>, we propose that, as soon as the two proposals above are met, the Prime Minister should consider dissolving the parliament to allow for a general election. Only by doing so could he claim the people’s mandate for his leadership.

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<1> Article 112 in Criminal Code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen or the Heir-apparent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to 15 years.” Note that what constitutes as violation is unclear, and often is interpreted too liberally. It also allows third parties to bring charges against each other, making it a convenient means for personal or political gains.

<2> Computer Crime Act 2007 allows ‘competent officials’ to seize hardware and arrest computer owners/users in case the data are deemed ‘a threat to national security’. The recent raid on Prachatai, an independent online news outlet, is widely believed to be a threatening move to stem the voices critical of the government.

<3> Democrat govt a shotgun wedding
http://nationmultimedia.com/2008/12/10/politics/politics_30090626.php

<4> I advised but did not meddle: Army Chief
http://nationmultimedia.com/2008/12/12/politics/politics_30090795.php

<5> http://www.cnnasiapacific.com/press/en/content/391/

Source from Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation

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PM unconcerned by Oxford University speech protest

BANGKOK, March 15  — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Sunday he was not at all concerned by protests which coincided with his keynote address on Thai democracy at St. John’s College, Oxford University on Saturday. He made the speech during an official visit to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Abhisit is scheduled to arrive back in Thailand Sunday afternoon.

Speaking during his weekly address on a government-run television station, Mr. Abhisit said he respected freedom of expression and differences of opinion in any society  differences he said which can be expressed in many forms and recognized as such, provided such expression of individual opinions do not incite nor involve violence.

Stressing that his government and he himself uphold a democratic system, Mr. Abhisit said he is always prepared to talk to Thais and foreigners in Thailand and overseas on important issues.

He noted however that some foreign media had reported biased viewpoints of the Thai government?s position regarding enforcement of the rule of law and other issues. He added that during his official visit to Britain he gave interviews to the BBC and the Financial Times newspaper, explaining to them the facts concerning various critical issues including the shutting down of Thai websites and the handling of the Rohingya illegal migrants issue.

He said however talks during his visit with British officials and the private sector were satisfactory, but acknowledged that his government still needs to address the challenge of clarifying misunderstandings of the situation in Thailand.

The government is prepared to work hard in and outside of the country to this end, Mr. Abhisit added. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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