Thailand: Court Decisions Weaken Samak Government

Updated On: Jul 10, 2008

The government suffered its third justice-administered setback in 24 hours on Wednesday as the Constitution Court kicked Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsub out of office.
Chaiya's dismissal was backed dated to March 6, for failure to declare his wife's 50 per cent holding in a private company.
As minister, Mr Chaiya was a lightning rod of controversy as he halted and tried to reverse "compulsory licensing" of drugs, that tries to make locally made drugs available at cheaper prices by circumventing patents held by larger and often foreign pharmaceutical companies. Civil groups had banded together to try to impeach the minister.
Chaiya, whose a provincial powerbase is in Nakhon Pathom, east of Bangkok, was regarded as a major financier of the ruling People Power party (PPP) and a personal favourite of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The results of Mr Chaiya's trial follows two other court decisions against his government. Ex-House speaker Yongyuth Tiyapairat was banned from politics for five years for vote buying. Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was ruled to have acted against the constitution in supporting the Cambodian bid to list the Preah Vihear temple as a Unesco-sponsored World Heritage Site.
PM Samak Sundaravej faces a cabinet reshuffle in coming days. He is under strong pressure from both within the PPP and the opposition to get rid of under-performing and controversial ministers. He is likely to do so before trying to pass the budget for 2009 and an expected reshuffle in the military and civil service. There are some suggestions that Samak may call a snap election as a last resort.

Source: Bangkok Post 9 July 08, Another court blow
The Nation, 10 July 08, Samak aims to buy time

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