News / Asia

Thai PM Given Deadline to Respond to Negligence Charge

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, center, leaves the Thai Air Force headquarters after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand,  Feb. 25, 2014.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, center, leaves the Thai Air Force headquarters after a cabinet meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 25, 2014.
Thailand's anti-corruption commission has charged the country's caretaker prime minister with negligence‚ an action that could force her ouster from office.
 
The National Anti-Corruption Commission said Yingluck Shinawatra  has until March 14 to answer the dereliction of duty charge against her.
 
Norawich Lalaeng, one of the attorneys for the acting prime minister, said Yingluck is confident she has not done anything illegal.
 
According to the lawyer, the prime minister is willing to cooperate with the commission, give information and evidence because she is confident of her honesty. The attorney said the rice-pledging scheme at the heart of the allegations benefited Thailand's farmers.
 
But if the case does not go her way, it could lead to impeachment by the Senate or criminal charges against Yingluck.

She is accused of knowing about corruption in the rice project and failing to stop it.
 
  • Pro-government supporters protest as they build a barricade to block the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Pro-government supporters dump sand to build a barricade in front of the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • A Thai soldier lies under a truck to take a nap at National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • A police officer watches pro-government supporters building a barricade to block the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Protesters chant slogans in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government outside the gate of the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • A pro-government supporter passes t-shirts with portraits of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her self-exiled brother Thaksin at the gate of the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • A government supporter shouts slogans during a rally outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • The body of one of the siblings killed in a bomb blast near an anti-government protest site on Feb. 23 is prepared for a funeral at a Buddhist temple, Bangkok, Feb. 24, 2014. 
  • Tayakorn Yos-ubon, left, the father of two children killed in a bomb attack on Feb. 23 at an anti-government protest site, holds their portrait as he waits with a monk for their bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Feb. 24, 2014.

Several hundred of her supporters, known as the "Red Shirts," blocked access to the commission's headquarters, just north of the capital (in Nonthaburi province) before the hearing began. They attempted to bar commissioners from entering, demanding they all resign and accusing the body of bias against Yingluck. Several of the pro-government protestors chained themselves to an entrance gate.
 
The hearing was shifted to a nearby government building.
 
Rice scheme

The rice scheme, tainted by allegations of corruption‚ has been considered an essential policy for Yingluck's administration, ensuring the support of millions of farmers who were paid above market price for their crops. But the fund has run out of money.
 
With payments delayed to the farmers, many of Yingluck's core supporters have been wavering. A promise last week of quick payments gave her some respite, with farmers on tractors making a U-turn after heading towards the capital to demand immediate payment.
 
If they had continued to the capital, that would have added to the chaos on Bangkok's major streets, where anti-government "yellow shirt" and other demonstrators for weeks have occupied key intersections. They have erected stages and hundreds of tents as part of their "Shutdown Bangkok" campaign that is to continue until Yingluck is ousted.
 
Suthep Thaugsuban

  • 64 years old
  • Deputy prime minister from 2008-2011
  • Member of administration that authorized 2010 crackdown on anti-government protesters
  • Faces murder charges related to that crackdown
  • Resigned from opposition Democrat Party to lead current protests
  • Has served as agriculture and communication ministers
  • Accused of giving the rich land rights under a program meant for the poor in 1995
The leader of those protests is former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban. He faces murder charges for the 2010 crackdown on Red Shirt demonstrations. After vowing he would never speak with Yingluck, he reversed his stance and said he would talk with her. But only in the form of a live debate televised on every national channel.
 
Speaking to reporters, Yingluck indicated that before negotiations could occur Suthep would first have to halt the protests so the truncated election process could resume.
 
Suthep contends elections are not viable because Yingluck's supporters can effectively buy their way back into office. He wants an unelected council to run the country for an indefinite period of time.
 
Violence in and around the capital has escalated in the past week with frequent grenade attacks and shootings. Four children were among those killed in the latest wave of violence.
 
There is scant police presence on the streets of the capital.
 
Thailand's army, ostensibly neutral, but viewed by analysts as sympathetic to those wanting to oust Yingluck, has begun expanding checkpoints in the capital. However generals have been reiterating they have no intention on carrying out another coup.
 
The military ousted Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawtra, from the prime minister's office in 2006. That set off an extended period of sometimes deadly political struggle.
 
The ultimate authority in the country, 86-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is frail and has not intervened. In a halting address to the nation on his birthday last December, he did call for all to work together "for the good of the whole country."

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid