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Is Thaksin bowing to pressure against his office?

Updated On: Feb 14, 2006

As Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s unpopularity rises, he seems to have finally softened his stand on the calls for constitutional amendments.

Despite popular support among the poor, PM Thaksin’s actions continue to rile the other sectors of Thai society for apparent corruption and cronyism, as well as authoritarian rule which oppresses the freedom of speech.

Earlier this year, business leaders called for political and legal reform, especially the Constitution, to relieve the current political pressure and strengthen the country’s long-term interests. Moreover, there were mass protests against him, calling for his resignation. The problem became more inflamed with the Shin Corp sale.

To all this opposition, PM Thaksin remained unruffled and insisted in finishing his term, saying that he would resign only if the King told him to.

However, on 11 February, PM Thaksin announced that the government will ask the Election Commission to prepare ballots for the referendum on charter amendment as well as for the senatorial election, so that voting for both can take place simultaneously on April 19.

He said that it would be unfair to change the constitution just because certain groups thought it gave too much power to the Prime Minister. Therefore, the majority’s view needed to be sought. The government spokesman, Dr. Surapong Suebwonglee, told reporters that the government was not trying to 'buy time' as alleged by the opposition, to avoid being forced out of his office.

Sources:

Public referendum on charter amendment to be held on April 19, The Nation, 13 February 2006

Will Thaksin reform? BangkokPost, 12 February 2006

Proposed constitutional amendment referendum defended Thai News Agency, 12 February 2006

Charter reform urged to address political problems, The Nation 10 February 2006

PM ignores academic's harsh words, Bangkok Post, 23 January 2006

Constitutional cure is needed, Bangkok Post, 12 February 2006