Opposition cries foul over Thaksin's appearance on state TV

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - The opposition Democrat Party and Green Politics Group threatened yesterday to file a lawsuit against the government for allowing former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to appear on Channel 11 of the national broadcasting service.

The anti-Thaksin camp cried foul yesterday after learning the fugitive ex-premier appeared on state-controlled media when he presided over the opening of a Thai boxing programme televised live from Macau on Sunday night.

The Democrat's deputy spokesperson Mallika Boonmeetrakool said her party would lodge a petition with the Ombudsman to investigate whether any responsible person in the government and the Public Relations Department (PRD), which oversees the station, needed to take responsibility for allowing a convicted fugitive to go on air.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had to show leadership to punish all concerned officials, and the Minister attached to Prime Minister's Office, Sansanee Nakpong, who oversees the PRD, also had to take responsibility for the [broadcasting breach], she said.

Thaksin took the opportunity as he delivered opening remarks at the 'Muay Thai Warriors' show on Sunday to send best wishes to His Majesty the King on the occasion of the Royal Birthday. He also dismissed an allegation of lese majeste made by the Pitak Siam group recently.

PM's Minister Sansanee said she did not know in advance that Thaksin would appear on state-run TV during the boxing programme. The proposal from the organiser did not offer any details about the ex-PM appearing, she said.

"I didn't know what to do as it had already happened. The public will judge whether it's right or wrong," she said.

Green Politics leader Suriyasai Katasila said Theerapong Sodasri, chief of the PRD, must step down to take responsibility for the mistake. His group would file a lawsuit against him and Sansanee in accordance with Article 157 of the Penal Code for misconduct and abuse of power for allowing the fugitive to appear on the screen, he said.

"There was no accident as the programme was well prepared and Thaksin himself had prepared a written speech to read out," he said.

The group would also ask the anti-graft body to investigate the case and all people responsible.

Former army chief Chaiyasit Shinawatra, the chairperson of the boxing event, said he invited Thaksin to deliver opening remarks for the show.

He said there was nothing wrong in the former premier expressing his best wishes to His Majesty the King on the occasion of the royal birthday.

Thaksin's legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said Thaksin, like many other Thais, simply took the chance to express loyalty to His Majesty the King. The boxing show was organised to celebrate this occasion, he said.

"Please do not politicise this matter. The opposition Democrats should know well that former premier Thaksin was convicted by an unjust court after a military coup," Noppadon said. "Democracy lovers like the Democrats should not admit the rule of the coup."

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