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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yingluck takes centre stage

Thaksin proudly claims his sister is 'his clone'

The Pheu Thai Party has voted Yingluck Shinawatra as its No.1 candidate on the party list system to compete against the Democrat Party's Abhisit Vejjajiva for the next premiership in the July 3 election.

Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s younger sister Yingluck is surrounded by local and international media after she was chosen as the Pheu Thai Party’s top candidate on the party list and its nominee for premier. SOMCHAI POOMLARD

Pheu Thai's de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who now lives in self-exile in Dubai, has confirmed he chose Ms Yingluck, his younger sister, for the post but denied that she is his proxy.

"Some said she is my nonimee. That's not true. But it can be said that Yingluck is my clone," Thaksin said in an exclusive interview with Post Today editors in Brunei.

Yesterday's vote at the Pheu Thai Party was taken in the absence of Ms Yingluck. She was told to travel to the party to hear the decision at about 2.20pm, an hour after the vote.

She thanked all party members for their support and said she felt honoured to be nominated.
She said she was confident Pheu Thai's policies could answer the needs of the public.
"I intend to enter politics and work for the people. I want unity and reconciliation to return to the country," Ms Yingluck said.

She said she wanted all sides to reconcile and this was a signal Pheu Thai was not thinking of revenge but "wants to improve things".

She offered an assurance she would "make use of being a woman" to bring about reconciliation and to move the country forward and address the economic problems and create justice.

Thaksin said he had trained Ms Yingluck to improve her management skills since her graduation from university and that he and his sister shared similar management styles.

"Another important thing is that Ms Yingluck is my sister and she can make decisions for me. She can say 'yes' or 'no' on my behalf," Thaksin said.

He said his selection of Ms Yingluck was aimed at paving the way for reconciliation.

He said he would have chosen his cousin Gen Chaiyasit Shinawatra, a former army chief, as the top party list candidate, instead of Ms Yingluck, if he wanted to retaliate against his political rivals.

He said Ms Yingluck's femininity would be Pheu Thai's strength.

Ms Yingluck said she had no personal grudges against anyone in politics and could talk "with all sides to promote harmony".

Thaksin conceded Ms Yingluck lacked the experience to adapt to the unique nature of Thai politics, which often seeks to topple political leaders.

However, Thaksin said if politics entered a reconciliation mode, the conflict would ease.

Ms Yingluck was born on June 21, 1967. She is the youngest of nine children of Lert and Yindee Shinawatra. She is married to Anusorn Amornchat, president of M-Link Asia Corporation. They have a son.

She graduated from Chiang Mai University's political science and public administration and obtained a master's degree in public administration from Kentucky State University in the US. She worked at Shinawatra Directories Co and then became chief executive of AIS in 2002. After the sale of AIS to Singaporean company Temasek in 2005, she left AIS and became chief executive at SC Asset, Shinawatra's property business. She is now a member and secretary of the Thaicom Foundation.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday congratulated Ms Yingluck on her endorsement as the No.1 candidate on Pheu Thai's party list and becoming a candidate for prime minister.

He said voters now know who they could vote for in the general election. He was willing to meet Ms Yingluck for a debate.

Deputy Prime Minister and Democrat Party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban was more critical of Ms Yingluck's nomination.

He said if Ms Yingluck became prime minister, the people would find it difficult to imagine how she could handle the country's administration while always having to wait for a long distance call from abroad before making any decision.

Bhumjaithai Party spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said the nomination of Ms Yingluck as Pheu Thai's No.1 candidate on the party list was Thaksin's "final card"in his political game and from now on the general election would be fiercely contested.

Chart Thai Pattana Party leader Chumpol Silpa-archa said Ms Yingluck's foray into politics would add colour to the general election. However, it remained to be seen if she would succeed.

People's Alliance for Democracy spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said if Pheu Thai won the election and Ms Yingluck became prime minister, the country's unrest would continue. Read more!

Prawit permits joint survey team

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has agreed to Cambodia's proposal to allow a joint survey team into the disputed Preah Vihear area as a prerequisite to holding a General Border Committee meeting.

Gen Prawit met his Cambodian counterpart Gen Tea Banh on Wednesday during the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen demanded that Thailand sign terms of reference for the presence of Indonesian observers in disputed areas and form a joint survey team to collect data, a source close to the meeting said.

"It was demanded that Thailand form the joint survey team first. Then Cambodia would agree to host the 8th GBC [General Border Committee] meeting," the source said.

"Thailand had to compromise on some points to save face for Hun Sen. Otherwise, a deal would be impossible. Without a GBC meeting, solutions to border problems can never happen."

However, Gen Prawit said the government could not sign the terms of reference now as the House has been dissolved for the general election.

The GBC is expected to urge Thailand and Cambodia to withdraw their soldiers from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area next to the Preah Vihear temple in Si Sa Ket province and in other disputed areas near Ta Kwai and Ta Muen temples in Surin province, the source said.

Then the Indonesian Observer Team will enter the disputed areas. Finally, Thailand and Cambodia will remove their soldiers completely to pave the way for demarcation by the bilateral Joint Boundary Commission.

Thai Defence spokesman Col Thanathip Sawangsaeng said from Indonesia the talks between Gen Prawit and Gen Tea Banh went smoothly and would lead to the 8th GBC meeting being hosted by Cambodia.

"The defence ministers of the two countries agreed to solve problems through peaceful means. They do not want to see any more clashes or suffer any more losses which will affect the livelihood of the people living along the border," Col Thanathip said.

Meanwhile, in Surin yesterday, where classes include Thai and Cambodian children, everything went smoothly on the second day of the new school term at 26 schools near the border.

Only Ban Nong Khanna and Ban Ta Miang schools in Phanom Dong Rak district remain closed as they are closer to Ta Muen Thom temple and areas of recent clashes between Thai and Cambodian soldiers.

Although the clashes stopped over two weeks ago, the military postponed classes at both schools as a precaution. They are now expected to open either on May 24 or June 1.
Read more!

ICJ set to hear debate over Hindu Temple

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, May 19 (UPI) -- The International Court of Justice said Thursday that hearings were scheduled next week on a request to review a 1962 ruling on the Preah Vihear temple.

Public hearings are set for Monday and Tuesday at the Hague to consider the 1962 case, a dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over sovereignty.

Cambodia called on the ICJ to clarify the meaning of a ruling on the Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia notes that the court ruled that it has sovereignty over the temple as a "direct and automatic consequence of its sovereignty over the territory on which the temple is situated," the court said in a May 3 summary. Furthermore, Thailand is under an obligation to pull its forces out of the area.

"Cambodia asserts that Thailand disagrees with all of these points,'" the summary read.

Conflicts between Cambodia and Thailand are centered on the 11th-century temple listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008. International courts ruled in 1962 that the temple was in Cambodia though parts of the temple grounds are in Thai territory.

Thai and Cambodian forces agreed to a shaky cease-fire in late April following a week of border clashes between the Asian neighbors over the area.
Read more!

Lake Residents Seek Land Measurement

Residents facing eviction in Phnom Penh’s Boeung Kak lake development sent a request to the city on Thursday asking for the establishment of a commission to measure plots of land they think could solve the problem.
The request comes amid increased pressure on authorities to resolve a standoff between a local developer and thousands of impoverished residents who refuse to make way for an extensive commercial and residential property project.

Resident representative Tep Vanny told VOA Khmer on Friday the community had submitted a request asking for city authorities and the Ministry of Land Management’s cadastre office to measure plots of land under a new compensation plan.

Residents have reduced their demands for 15 hectares of land, set aside from the 133-hectare development, down to 10 hectares, said Ly Srey Mom, another village representative. Under that scheme, 744 plots of land would be established for 1,500 families, she said.

“We detailed the completion of our land plots and sent this to the city,” she said. “We want to talk with the city representatives and end land disputes that have taken place over four years with no resolution.”

The city has so far not responded to a May 9 request for a meeting, despite numerous protests by the residents, who say a buyout package from the developer, Shukaku, Inc., is too little. Last month, police clashed with resident protesters in front of city hall, injuring several and briefly detaining a number of them.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema has already promised residents the city would measure land plots, but that has not yet taken place.

Meanwhile, the World Bank, which was reprimanded by an internal investigation for failing to title the people living around the lake under a titling program, issued a statement this week calling on both parties to “reach a resolution.”

The bank said it had been assured the government was “taking a number of steps to improve resettlement processes more generally in Cambodia.”

Ly Srey Mom said the World Bank titling project had failed residents around the lake, so the bank now had a duty to support them, which would provide “transparency and justice.”
Read more!

Cambodia sees spike in lightning deaths: official

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Lightning strikes have killed 56 Cambodians so far this year, twice as many as over the same period last year, an official said Thursday, blaming an early start to the rainy season.

Just 27 people were struck dead by lightning in the first five months of 2010, when 114 were killed over the whole year, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

Young Cambodian men carry Buddhist monks
through a flooded street next to Royal Palace
after a heavy rain
 Unusually early rain fall this year had contributed to the rise in fatalities, NCDM spokesman Keo Vy told AFP.

"This may be related to the rain that started in early February this year, compared to April last year," he said. Cambodia's rainy season normally runs from May to October.

"Many people are more scared than ever of lightning strikes because they just happen more often," Keo Vy added.

Lightning deaths happen every year in Cambodia, especially in rural areas.

Many of the victims have been farmers and the government has warned people to stay indoors during storms.

Keo Vy said the government couldn't afford to distribute lightning rods but it had distributed information pamphlets to help communities in areas prone to lightning strikes.

"It's a natural disaster happening in other countries as well, but Cambodia can't afford advanced equipment to (protect against) lightning strikes yet."
Read more!