Yingluck clears one hurdle, many ahead

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - A political landmine has been cleared for Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra when the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) decided she had not filed a false asset statement. However, many more landmines lie ahead of her on the political path.

The NACC unilaterally voted to endorse a finding by an investigative panel that Yingluck did not intend to conceal or falsify her assets in her financial statement submitted to the NACC.

Earlier, the NACC detected what seemed to be discrepancy in her financial statement when Yingluck declared that she had lent 30 million baht (US$1.02 million) to the Ad Index Co of her husband, Anusorn Amorchat, in 2006 and 2007. Initially, it seemed to be a discrepancy because the account of the firm regarding its loans did not conform with Yingluck's financial statement.

However, NACC investigators checked the transactions in detail and found that the prime minister did lend the money to the firm and she had not behaved in a way that could lead to doubt that she had intended to conceal her assets. The investigators reported the finding to the NACC, which endorsed it. The NACC retained the information to compare with Yingluck's assets statement to be submitted to the graft watchdog when she leaves the office.

The NACC unanimously resolved to clear the prime minister from the suspicion that she had falsified her assets statement, NACC member Klanarong Chanthik said yesterday. The anti-graft commissioners unanimously resolved to endorse the authenticity of the PM's financial statements filed with the NACC and would keep the record of the statements for further use in the future, according to Klanarong.

The decision of the NACC eased Pheu Thai's earlier concern about Yingluck's status regarding the assets statement.

However, Yingluck is still facing several hot issues that could affect her office. One of the issues is the 2-trillion baht borrowing bill. On Wednesday, charter writers of the 2007 Constitution led by Manit Suksomchit filed a complaint with the NACC, accusing Yingluck and her Cabinet of violating Article 157 of the criminal law for abuse of authority in connection with its 2-trillion baht loan bill.

In their petition filed with the NACC, the charter drafters said the Cabinet had abused its authority by violating fiscal and budgetary discipline as stipulated in Article 169 and Articles 166-170. They asked the NACC to send the issue to the Criminal Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders to make a ruling that could lead to Yingluck's removal from office.

Another issue that could affect Yingluck's office is the issuing of a passport to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

By the middle of this month, the 30-day period for Yingluck to provide an explanation to the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the passport will run out. The Ombudsmen initially suspected that the passport reissuance contradicted the regulations of the Foreign Ministry.

If Yingluck sticks to her stand not to order the Foreign Ministry to revoke the passport, the issue may escalate and cost her the premiership. In the meantime, the on-going constitutional amendments and the plan to enact amnesty or reconciliation bills, which are facing stiff resistance from the government's opponents, may shake Yingluck's seat. But if she knows how to make a tactical retreat, her government may survive and continue to be under her leadership.

*US$1=29.39 baht

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