Caretaker PM Yingluck shuts option for neutral, non-elected premier


BANGKOK, Feb 7 – Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra asserted today that the law did not allow a non-MP to take the helm of the government, saying that the caretaker premier must stay in office after a House dissolution and until a new administration takes over the job.

Ms Yingluck was referring to a call by former deputy prime minister Pridiyathorn Devakula yesterday for a neutral person, and not politician, to lead the government given the months-long political and economic crises and the Yingluck government’s failure in the rice pledging scheme.

She said, “Not a single article in the law allows such a practice. In case a neutral prime minister is appointed, his power is not different from the caretaker premier

“If (you) want a prime minister with full power, the only option is to tear up the Constitution. Whether tearing up the Constitution will be successful or not depends on the people. It’s up to the people if they want to preserve democracy but the election has shown that 20 million people exercising their voting rights to maintain democracy.

Ms Yingluck gave assurances that the government would be responsible for overdue payments to farmers, saying that no government would ignore the problems and the people’s grievances but there are legal obstacles in assisting farmers.

All related agencies were instructed to urgently work despite restrictions and the Finance Ministry would find financial sources for borrowing while the Commerce Ministry will urgently release rice in stockpiles, she said.

She would not commit on when farmers would be paid but called on the public to sympathise with the farmers and avoid escalating the rice subsidies difficulties into a political issue which could disrupt payments to farmers.

Caretaker Deputy Agriculture Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said the government has not stopped paying farmers and money earned from selling rice has been transferred to the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).

The BAAC is responsible for rice payments to farmers.

“Don’t obstruct the government or intimidate financial institutions and state officials if you really sympathise with farmers. Let everything move in accord with the process. The previous government also borrowed to pay farmers,” he said.