Didn't intend to 'whitewash' Thaksin's actions with speech, says Thai PM

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday denied trying to "whitewash" the actions of her brother, the former premier Thaksin, with a speech she gave in Mongolia on Monday.

However, an informed source said yesterday that Yingluck had personally supervised the speech until it came out the way it did.

The source said she had initially told the Foreign Ministry to draft the speech so it focused on democracy, however she later had PM's Secretary-General Suranan Vejjajiva change the content.

The source said Yingluck worked on the speech with Suranan during the five-hour flight to Mongolia, well after he initially changed it at Government House. Suranan was asked to include Thaksin's name and make the speech more specific, the source said.

Meanwhile, Yingluck said she simply cited problems that Thailand experienced in order to illustrate a point during her address.

However, in reality, she attacked the 2007 Constitution and charter-sanctioned independent agencies in her speech at the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Ulan Bator.

"It's a venue for democracies, so I talked about the situation in Thailand as a lesson. I don't want the same things to happen again and I would like to see our country move forward," she said.

Foreign investors would have confidence in Thailand if the country has a full democracy.

The prime minister said she had not discredited the country; the purpose of the forum was to discuss democracy, so she gave a speech to tell the international community Thailand was sincere about developing its democracy.

"Not at all, I was just describing what happened [in Thailand] as a lesson. We don't want to see similar incidents happen. That was my intention," Yingluck replied when reporters noted that her speech had been interpreted as an attempt to "whitewash" Thaksin.

Asked if she wasn't concerned that her speech would raise the political temperature, Yingluck replied: "I was not quarrelling with anyone. I simply talked about what happened. I was not accusing anyone in particular."

But she declined to commit herself on whether she would give a similar speech if a forum on democracy were held in Thailand. She said it would depend on the situation and timing.

Retired Pol General Vasit Dejkunjorn yesterday posted a message on his Facebook page severely criticising Yingluck over her speech in Ulan Bator.

Some points 'foolish'

Vasit said the speech was full of blunders and that it was pathetic for Yingluck to seek sympathy from the international community over suffering that "stemmed from [alleged] corruption by her brother".

It was "foolish" for Yingluck to announce that she could do nothing to the opponents of democracy in Thailand, when her government had a majority in the House and controlled the military and police, he said.

Vasit said Yingluck sounded like the head of a displaced government seeking support from foreign governments to help her seize power.

Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut Saikua, a red-shirt leader, yesterday defended the PM's speech in Mongolia. He claimed it clearly and significantly summed up the political situation in Thailand over the past several years. It conveyed the truth about the political conflict here to other countries and sent a message to people wherever conflicts exist to re-examine the causes of their disputes, he said.

The deputy minister said those who wield power from behind the scenes and independent agencies should realise that Thailand is not alone in the world, but a member of the international community, which accepts democracy as the best system of government.

Natthawut said Yingluck's speech had nothing to do with a recent protest by red shirts against the Constitutional Court, in which they have demanded that the court's nine judges resign.

The Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship did not control all red-shirt groups, and they were free to demonstrate on their own, he said.

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