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Newest tactic by Thaksin: A grand coalition for a unity government?

Updated On: Mar 28, 2006

Thai PM Thaksin has offered to reserve quotas for the Democrat, Chart Thai, Mahachon and other small parties that win seats in the upcoming elections, saying that this will heal the political schism.

“I will form a national government after the April 2 elections because it is the way to bring unity back to the country... You people can also fix the country's divisions by voting in the elections, because it is an easy way to make the protesters end their protest,” Thaksin was reported by the Bangkok Post as saying. “Maj-Gen Chamlong and Mr Sondhi are welcome to join, but must follow the law by registering with parties if they want seats in a national government,” he added.

Mr Thaksin's sudden offer was rejected pointblank by the major opposition parties. Suriyasai Katasila, a spokesman for the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy, said, “It is unacceptable to either the opposition or the PAD for Thaksin to promise a national government after the April 2 election. This is an attempt to earn him legitimacy.”

Mr Sondhi declared that Thaksin had “gone mad” and this was a desperate attempt to cling to power. Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also rejected Mr Thaksin's offer while Somkiat Pongpaiboon of the PAD said, “He obviously realises that people will not vote for Thai Rak Thai and many Thai Rak Thai candidates will not be able to win the 20% of votes required by the constitution to qualify for House seats.”

Meanwhile, Thailand's Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, wrote to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi, expressing concern over the potential bilateral fallout due to the Shin Corp takeover by Temasek Holdings. Shin Corp’s sale triggered accusations of Thaksin’s corrupt practices and accelerated the movement for his resignation. Thus, Senator Kraisak stressed that “the relationship between our two countries must not be jeopardised as a result of a single business transaction, especially since Singapore is respected throughout the international community for her belief in the values of transparency, accountability and good governance.”Singapore's Ambassador to Thailand, Peter Chan, on PM Lee’s behalf, said Singapore shared the same concerns over the protests in Thailand. Moreover, Singapore is adamant that “Temasek and any other Singapore company that invests in Thailand must comply with Thai laws… That is what we believe Temasek is doing, and we do not expect any special exemptions or privileges…” Mr Chan and Mr Abdullah also hoped that the sales will not affect bilateral ties, and instead hope that bilateral ties would only grow stronger.

Sources:

Opposition to meet on Monday (Bangkok Post, 27 March 2006)

PM offers to form unity government (Bangkok Post, 27 March 2006)                                                                          

Thaksin proposes 'national govt' (The Nation, 27 March 2006)

Thai senator expresses concern over Shin Corp sale in letter to PM Lee (Channel NewsAsia, 26 March 2006)