PM to lead Cabinet to receive blessing from Privy Council president

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BANGKOK, April 23 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will lead her Cabinet to seek a blessing from Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda Thursday on the occasion of Thai traditional New Year and that the move is not politically motivated.

The premier said Gen Prem is revered figure for the Thai people and it is good occasion to seek a blessing from him on the occasion of the Songkran festival and to thank him for attending the government’s post-flood thank you party in February.

Ms Yingluck said the visit was simply for his blessing, not to discuss other issues. However, she said her government would heed advice, if any, from the privy council president as the government wants to achieve national reconciliation.

The premier reaffirmed that Gen Prem has not been involved in politics and that national reconciliation is the work of the legislative branch, while the government is duty-bound to work for the well-being of the people.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said the premier’s plan to seek a blessing from Gen Prem is a common practice, urging the public not to interpret the gesture as a political move.

Meanwhile, opposition Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva commented that the government should take this opportunity to show sincerity in achieving reconciliation by asking key Red Shirt leaders such as Deputy Agriculture Minister Natthawut Saikua and Pheu Thai party-list MP Jatuporn Prompan to attend the blessing ceremony.

Mr Abhisit reasoned that the two protest leaders should apologise to the privy council president whom they repeatedly insulted during the Red Shirt political demonstrations.

The opposition leader’s comments came after media report that Mr Natthawut would be unable to join the Thursday gathering due to his busy schedule.