The Prime Minister reiterates that the Foreign Minister can stay in office further as he has not been issued an arrest warrant and the charge he is facing is not a corruption allegation.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declined to comment whether the charge of terrorism against Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is too harsh, saying his remark could be seen as an intervention into the related legal process.
Abhisit commented that the call for Kasit to step down is implausible as he has just been issued a summon by the police. Moreover, his resignation should be tendered when he causes damage, but his behavior has never hurt the current administration.
The Prime Minister added the case against Kasit is not in accordance with the nine-point code of conduct he issued for Cabinet members as it is not a corruption charge. He also said coalition partners have no objection against the embattled minister.
Abhisit concluded by saying if Kasit decides to step down, he is ready to respect his decision.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Kasit must prove his innocence through the existing legal means. He assured the government will not meddle in the related processes but the embattled minister should be allowed to perform his ministerial duties as usual.
As for the security measures for the upcoming ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and ASEAN Regional Meeting between July 16 and 23 in Phuket, Suthep said the enforcement of the Internal Security Act that bans protests in the area will not affect locals and the tourism industry.
Suthep declined to comment on reports that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is in Fiji.
Meanwhile, leader of Chartthaipattana Party and Tourism and Sports Minister Chumphon Silapa-acha said the recent survey which showed the majority of Thais want to see Kasit resign will not hurt the administration as the poll cannot represent the opinions of all 65 million people in the country.
Chumpon added the summon for Kasit is for action prior to him taking office and he has never caused any damage to the administration. In addition, many others also participated in the forced closure of Suvarnabhumi Airport apart from the embattled minister.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Spokesman Prompong Nopparit visited Government House to hand documents and a video clip of Kasit’s earlier pledge to resign if he was charged in the airport closure case to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister however assigned his Deputy Secretary-General in charge of political affairs Sutham Limkasemsuwan to receive those evidence.
Prompong said he is disappointed with the Prime Minister for taking no heed of the Opposition’s role in checking the government as he did not receive the documents by himself.
In the meantime, a group of red-shirt supporters gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry to submit a letter calling for the foreign minister’s resignation. The group said Kasit should resign since he had been charged by police for involvement in the closure of Suvarnabhumi Airport late last year.
The protesters also burned an effigy of Kasit and called for the police to take serious action in both civil and criminal charges against the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s blockades of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. Additional police officers were deployed outside the ministry to ensure the protest was orderly staged.
Kasit is currently out of the country on a visit to Australia and New Zealand.
Police guard Ministry of Foreign Affairs as UDD pressure Mr Kasit to resign
Phayathai Police have dispatched security units to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the anti-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) declared they would gather in front of the ministry to expel Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya.
Phayathai Police Station Superintendent Police Major General Chirapat Phochanaphan said security detail dispatched to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning was necessitated by the UDD. The group has called for Mr Kasit to step down due to a charge issued against him in the airport seizure case. The group has condemned Mr Kasit’s decision to remain in office as disgraceful.
Police Major General Chirapat said that a total of 125 officers had been dispatched to the ministry and that continual monitors of the situation would take place.
No reason for Kasit to quit his post at this stage: PM
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya should be allowed to remain in office to complete important tasks.
However, Abhisit added that he was not saying Kasit would be removed from office after the Asean ministerial meeting later this month, or the Asean Summit in October.
“At this stage, we should allow Kasit to continue working. As for the justice procedure, I don’t know about the exact time frame. We will have to look at the cases in detail,” he said.
Kasit was summonsed for police questioning in connection with the seizure of Suvarnabhumi Airport at the end of last November. Another 35 people, most of them leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), are among those summonsed.
Pressure is mounting for the foreign minister to step down, including a public opinion survey that showed most residents wanted him to resign in the wake of the legal action.
Abhisit said it was too early for people to demand Kasit’s resignation, even though police had charged him relating to his alleged involvement in the airport seizure.
The prime minister also rejected the PAD’s allegation that he and his government had interfered in the case.
The premier will not pressure Kasit to resign as the case against him is expected to take at least three months to reach court, according to a source from the ruling Democrat Party. The foreign minister would be able to stay on until at least the Asean Summit in October.
More importantly, the Democrats have been unable to find a replacement for Kasit, the source said.
By The Nation
Published on July 11, 2009