Govt insists on work as usual, punishment for protest leaders


BANGKOK, Dec 2 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra held an urgent Cabinet meeting last night and instructed all agencies to seriously enforce the laws to urgently resolve the political crisis.

She chaired the meeting via a teleconference with Cabinet members who gathered at the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), specially set up to handle the political disputes.

Appearing on television after the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok said civil servants would report to work as usual today, disregarding a call for civil servants to go on strike on Monday by anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

Pol Gen Pracha was flanked by other senior Cabinet members including Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana.

He said Mr Suthep has been on the authorities’ wanted list after an arrest warrant was issued for him for instigating unrest and intruding into government buildings.

He said the YIngluck government has never rejected the Constitution Court’s ruling against a bill on the Senate composition as alleged by Mr Suhtep or anti-government protesters.

“It was a political party, not the government, which denounced the Constitution Court’s judgement. The amnesty bill was also a legislatures’ initiative, not the government. The legislative and administrative branches are separate,” he said.

He said Mr Suthep did not have the constitutional right to order television stations to stop covering news of the government, and concentrating only the protesters.

Pol Gen Pracha said the protesters’ seizures of government buildings and TV stations were not done by peaceful means but they had forced open concrete barriers and hurled ‘pingpong’ bombs into ranks of security personnel.

Mr Suthep’s use of force to remove the government’s administrative power is a violation of Article 113 of the Criminal Code, liable to death or life imprisonment, he said.

He warned people against leaving their residences between 10pm and 5am for their own safety and to avoid becoming the tool of a third party.

Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Surapong said he will meet with foreign diplomats this afternoon to brief and clarify the political situation in light of statements by the US and UK objecting to protesters’ seizures of government property.

Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Kittiratt said the political dispute will affect Thailand’s economy particularly in the fourth quarter of the year which is a prime money-making period for Thailand’s exports and tourism.

Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep said the authorities have sufficient evidence and witnesses to take legal action against Mr Suthep, adding that other core leaders and accomplices will be subject to legal action together with the former Democrat MP.