Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PT: Suthep must clarify 'secret talk'

Sept 14, 2011
Bangkok Post

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban should publicly clarify the "secret talk" over the overlapping maritime area revealed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said on Wednesday.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit (Photo by Phrakrit Juntawong)

Mr Prompong, a party list MP, was referring to Hun Sen's comment during a press interview that he and Mr Suthep had a secret talk at his residence at Ta Khmau in Kandal province about the overlapping maritime area rich with oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Cambodian prime minister's statement had raised suspicions about why Mr Suthep, who had no responsibility for the matter, had taken part and whether it involved conflicts of interest or shady deals, he said.

Mr Prompong said Mr Suthep's action contrasted to the repeated attacks by the Democrat-led government against the administrations of former prime ministers Thaksin Shinawatra and Samak Sundaravej, and Yingluck Shinawatra, had conflicts of interest over the overlapping maritime area.

If what Hun Sen said was true Mr Abhisit, the former prime minister, and Mr Suthep, the former deputy prime minister, could face impeachment by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, he said. Under the NACC Act, an impeachment motion can be filed up to two years after the end of their tenure in office, he said.

Asked whether the prime minister would seek more information on this from Hun Sen during her visit on Thursday, Mr Prompong said she would probably do so.

Asked whether the government would seek Thaksin's extradition to Thailand, Mr Prompong said this was the duty of the Foreign Affairs and Justice ministries and the Office of the Attorney General.

Senator Khamnoon Sithisaman also said Mr Suthep and Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, the former defence minister who accompanied him on the visit, should explain the matter to the public.

He said the government should call a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate under Section 179 of the constitution to hear the opinions of parliamentarians and give Mr Suthep a chance to explain.

It was also questionable if Mr Suthep had breached Section 190 of the constitution, the senator said.

Democrat Party key member and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

At the Democrat Party headquarters, Mr Suthep admitted he and Gen Prawit had met Hun Sen at his residence but said the talk was not secret.

Mr Suthep said he went there to convince Hun Sen to attend the Asean Summit to be hosted by Thailand and they talked over several issues including a prisoners swap that led to the release of two Thai Muslim prisoners.

On the overlapping maritime area, Hun Sen said he assigned Deputy Prime Minister Sok An to handle the matter. But Sok An was not in Cambodia at the time, Mr Suthep said.

Mr Suthep said the documents he had at the time were from a Foreign Ministry committee handling the matter, and were not secret.

He and Gen Prawit were only trying to express sincerity about solving mutual problems between the two countries and to show respect to the Cambodian prime minister, despite knowing well that he has a special relation with fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Former foreign miniser Kasit Piromya said in a separate interview that in normal practice there are both informal and formal talks.

Sometimes an informal talk was required before a formal talk.

The talk between Mr Suthep and Hun Sen was not secret. On his return Mr Suthep reported to all agencies concerned.

Mr Suthep was only performing his duty as the leader of the Thai team for negotiations on the overlapping maritime area, as he was assigned to do, by the cabinet, Mr Kasit said.

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