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Thai Prime Minister Visits Hong Kong

  • Kari Cameron

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is in Hong Kong on his first trip overseas since tensions in Thailand peaked last month.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong less than three months after ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra canceled a speaking engagement there.

As Abhisit took the podium, two phrases hung on his lips - economic recovery and political reconciliation.

"I am here to say that behind the pictures that you see on the news on television and beyond the headlines, Thailand continues to get back in business," he said.

The prime minister, who came to power a year ago following paralyzing demonstrations at the Bangkok airport, was quick to focus his brief trip to Hong Kong on quelling concerns about Thailand's stability.

"Despite the turmoil over the last few months and all these political challenges, the government has also been able to implement our recovery and stimulus packages as far as the economy is concerned on track and on time at the same time we are also carrying out our commitments as ASEAN chair," he said.

As Thailand prepares a multi-million dollar mid-year stimulus aimed at projects such as education, water distribution and health care, Abhisit is working to assure The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN and the global community that he has firm frameworks in place for future economic uncertainties and the current rocky political climate.

The key to Thailand's future success, says Abhisit, will be the ability of the two dueling parties, pro-Thaksin supporters known as red shirts and pro-Democratic party supporters known as yellow shirts to come together for the good of the country.

"You put red and yellow together and you get orange. Orange is a color that stands for innovation and that is exactly what we need," he said.

The prime minister mentioned the possibility of amnesty for some leaders convicted on political charges, but his greatest opposition, former Prime Minister Thaksin, will not be extended the same offer for what Abhisit calls 'criminal charges.'

"He can expect justice in Thailand and he must accept the consequences of his actions," he said.

Abhisit says he is working with the Hong Kong government to create an extradition treaty that, should Thaksin land in Hong Kong, would return the former leader to Thailand for prosecution.