Thailand’s Chalerm cancels meet with Malaysia’s Mahathir


BANGKOK, March 20 – Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said Tuesday he has called off a planned meeting with former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad to concentrate on the government-proposed bill to seek Bt2 trillion loans for infrastructure investment.

Mr Chalerm said he was instructed by his superior, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, to ensure that the bill is submitted to the House of Representatives which may debate its first reading on March 28.

“Some people said the bill is a breach of the Constitution. I have to see to it that it reaches the Lower House. Details of the bill are the responsibility of Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong,” he said.

Mr Chalerm said earlier that he would discuss possible solutions to the violence in Thailand’s southern provinces with the former Malaysian premier.

He said he telephoned Mr Mahathir who expressed his understanding regarding the postponement.

The deputy premier said he will definitely make an inspection trip to Thailand’s Muslim-predominant far South but failed to give further details.

Meanwhile, the opposition Democrat Party asked the government to revise its planned dialogue with Muslim insurgents, scheduled for March 28 in Kuala Lumpur, and said the recent signing of agreement between the National Security Council and Muslim insurgents of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) group was a “grave mistake.”

Deputy Democrat leader Thaworn Senneam said the agreement has contributed to acknowledgements in the international community and Islamic countries that insurgent movements exist in Thailand.

“In this case, international organisations may intervene in case of future attacks. Their intervention may lead them to ask southern people on a preferred administrative system. This can possibly lead to separatism and the formation of a Pattani State,” he said.

Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya said the government-insurgent agreement could lead to international intervention and separation of the southern region as in the cases of detaching Ireland from the United Kingdom and Palestine from Israel.

A group of southern MPs, led by Prasert Pongsuwansiri from Yala, expressed doubt about the authority of 15 state representatives who will attend the dialogue with BRN on March 28.