The Pheu Thai party has voiced its objection against the use of Section 44 of the interim constitution to empower the Legal Execution Department to proceed with seizing the assets of those responsible for the defunct rice pledging scheme.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the party also demanded that the government reviews its decision to demand compensation for the scheme, claiming that the use of Section 44 defies the spirit of the constitution.
The issuance of the statement came after the civil liability committee of the Finance Ministry decided on Friday to demand 35.7 billion baht in compensation from former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her failure to oversee proper management of the rice pledging scheme and for the losses incurred.
Earlier, former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyaphirom, former deputy commerce minister Poom Saraphol, Boonsong’s former secretary Veeravuth Watchanapukka and three former commerce officials were ordered to pay a combined total of 20 billion baht in compensation for the loss to the state from the fake government-to-government rice deals.
The Pheu Thai party alleged in its statement that the government and head of the National Council for Peace and Order, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, were intent on finding fault with Ms Yingluck and the others responsible for the rice pledging scheme in total disregard of legal procedures, as evident from the remarks made by the prime minister and the deputy prime minister concerned.
The party described the use of Section 44 in this case as an abuse of power and was unfair to those accused of mishandling the rice scheme.
The party said that since criminal proceedings against Ms Yingluck and other political appointees involved are still pending with the Supreme Court’s criminal division for political office holders, the civil proceedings such as the demand for compensation should be put on hold.
The party also dismissed the claim that Section 44 is necessary to pave the way for the seizure of assets as the statute of limitations of the civil proceedings will expire soon, saying that the statute of limitations has not yet started as it is undecided whether those responsible for the scheme are in the wrong or not.
Also, the party charged that the government and the NCPO leader are not regarded as an impartial party, but a party engaged in direct conflict with the Yingluck government because of their opposition to the rice pledging scheme.