Democrats file impeachment charges against PM, Foreign Minister


BANGKOK, Jan 24 – Thailand’s Opposition Democrat Party on Tuesday filed an impeachment petition against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul for their alleged roles in connection with the return of a Thai passport to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Wirat Kalayasiri, leader of the Democrat legal team and Democrat MP for Songkhla, submitted a petition endorsed by 145 Democrat party members of parliament to Senate Speaker Gen Theeradej Meepian Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Wirat said the Democrat action resulted from the prime minister intentionally neglecting her duty, while Mr Surapong infringed several foreign ministry regulations including the return of a passport to a person with an outstanding arrest warrant.

In December, Mr Surapong disclosed that an ordinary passport was returned to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin as a ‘New Year’s gift’ for him, insisting that the action complied with ministerial regulations and was within his authority as foreign minister.

Mr Wirat said Democrat MP Chaiwut Phongphaew on Dec 28 submitted a letter of complaint to Ms Yingluck, asking her to suspend the reissuance of the controversial passport, but no progress has been made ever since.

Mr Wirat said he will also file the complaint with the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to examine the case against the premier, the foreign minister and some involved senior foreign ministry officials.

The deposed premier’s ordinary passport was revoked in mid-April 2009 by the foreign ministry under the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration following political turmoil and street clashes between the Red Shirt supporters of the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and the government security forces.

Mr Thaksin, at that time, was accused of using Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, as his base to allegedly encourage unrest by his supporters.

Ousted in a bloodless coup in Sept 2006, Mr Thaksin was convicted and given a two-year jail term after being found guilty of violating Thailand’s conflict of interest laws in helping his then-wife secure a parcel of state land in a prime commercial area of Bangkok. He now lives in self exile and spends most of his time in Dubai.