RA’s Thailand News Blast – May 13, 2012
Ampon Tangnoppakul, also known as Ar Kong and ‘Uncle SMS’, the 62-year-old grandfather given a 20 year sentence after being convicted under lèse majesté, has died in prison. His funeral was held yesterday. Supporters and mourners gathered last week outside the Ratchada Criminal Court to mark his passing.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm denies that Pheu Thai MPs have been meeting with Thaksin Shinawatra in China to negotiate the configuration of the cabinet, and says that any decision on the cabinet is up to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose attention is currently focused on the problem of inflation. A spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party says that short-term government plans to ease inflation include stabilising the price of goods and encouraging grocery stores to lower their prices. Yingluck has complained that journalists are not correctly quoting her on inflation, (in reference to an earlier report that she had said perceived price rises were linked to the start of the school semester) and blames inflation on the flood and the global increase of gas prices. Democrat spokesperson Mulika has attacked Yingluck for failing to understanding the real causes of price increases. A spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party suggested that the opposition were making up stories about rising prices as part of a ‘political game’. Former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says the government needs to face facts.
Warathep, one of the 111 disbanded politicians, estimates that 50% of his group will attempt to return to politics. Democrat MP Thepthai warns of conflicts in Pheu Thai if current ministers are replaced with politicians from the 111 group, as was rumoured earlier in the week; Thepthai also argues that the party is not a proper political institution due to the perception that the party is controlled by the Shinawatra family. The party lost at the local election in Chiang Rai, and its members Jiayu and Praijit will both resign their posts due to conflicts of interest. Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan said he was bothered by fellow party member Chalong Riewraeng’s statements about his not being suitable for a ministerial post, but Chalong explained that his initial statements were related to Jatuporn’s LM case, which has since been dropped. A spokesperson for Pheu Thai says that Jatuporn would be a suitable choice for the position. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture has acknowledged broader resistance to Jatuporn’s potential appointment as Deputy Minister of the Interior, but says that the decision ultimately is up to Yingluck.
Abhisit Vejjajiva has filed a police report against Pheu Thai MP Pracha for defamation.
PHOTO: Women perform a traditional dance during the Rocket Festival, also known as Bun Bang Fai, in Yasothon, 531 kms (330 miles) northeast of Bangkok, May 12, 2012. The festival marks the start of the rainy season when farmers are about to plant rice. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom