Thai PM takes to FB to confront critics

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, yesterday cried foul over the widespread ridiculing by Facebook users of her debate on the 2 trillion baht (US$68.1 billion) loan bill on Thursday.

The PM posted a message on her Facebook wall to defend herself, saying the transport of agricultural products in high-speed trains would be a part of the economic development plan.

On Thursday, netizens paraphrased Yingluck's speech to the House to ridicule her. They said high-speed trains were supposed to carry passengers but the prime minister said they would be needed to transport fresh vegetables to prevent them from rotting.

Defending the loan bill on Thursday, Yingluck said: "If the government invests in the high-speed train system, development will reach remote areas and the people's quality of life will improve and they will have more convenience. Bangkok will be linked to major rural towns to facilitate transport of raw materials from the source for faster distribution. If the goods are foods, they will be fresher and the loss will be minimised, and this will reduce the cost for farmers and consumers who will get fresher foods."

But several Facebook users posted messages that Yingluck's speech showed that she was not smart enough because she wanted to build high-speed trains to transport fresh vegetables.

In her Facebook post yesterday, Yingluck said her statement was distorted for political impact and those who made fun of the issue were also looking down on farmers. She said the ridicule was not constructive.

She said the transport of goods by a high-speed train system would add value to agricultural products, especially those that need quick transport to retain their quality.

"The goods will sell at good prices and consumers will get fresh goods," Yingluck said in the post.

"In foreign countries, it is normal to use high-speed transport for goods. For example, flowers are shipped by planes [and this practice has been used in Thailand for a long time]. And in Europe, the Euro Carex has been developed to use high-speed trains to transport goods only. So I am not daydreaming. This has become true in several countries and it allows farmers there to export agricultural goods that require high standards, including vegetables and flowers."

Ending her post, Yingluck said the high-speed-rail system would enable farmers to have a better life.

"So high-speed trains will be a tool to increase equality of opportunities among Thais and to reduce the disparity among the people," she said in the post.

*US$1=29.34 baht

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