Friday, December 23, 2011

Yingluck faces impeachment House will be asked to query Thaksin passport

The Democrat Party will launch impeachment proceedings against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul next week over the return of a passport to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping inspect an honour guard at Government House during an official visit by the Chinese official on Thursday. APICHART JINAKUL
Wirat Kalayasiri, leader of the opposition party's legal team, said a petition will be filed with the Senate speaker for submission to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. He said the party's bid to impeach Ms Yingluck and Mr Surapong and unseat them for abusing their power in re-issuing the passport to Thaksin will be signed by 125 Democrat MPs.
The move comes after the Foreign Ministry admitted it issued a passport to Thaksin after he applied for it at the Thai embassy in Abu Dhabi on Oct 25.
Mr Wirat said the Democrat Party will also file a separate criminal complaint against Mr Surapong for violating Section 157 of the Criminal Code for negligence of duty.
He accused the foreign minister of interfering with Department of Special Investigation (DSI) operations regarding issuing an arrest warrant for Thaksin on terrorism charges.
Mr Wirat said the former prime minister is not eligible to hold a passport on the grounds that he is wanted on terrorism charges and is a convict who is avoiding a jail sentence.
Mr Surapong yesterday justified the decision to reissue a passport to Thaksin in a House meeting during a fresh interpellation submitted by Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaiboon.
The foreign minister cited Section 21(2) of the passport regulation, saying the criteria used to withhold a passport for Thaksin were not complete.
According to Section 21(2), a ban can be imposed if there is an arrest warrant and police, judicial officials or administrative officers agree with the ban.
He said the Foreign Ministry wrote to the Supreme Court on Aug 11 and the police on Aug 20 in 2008 to seek advice but nothing was said about the passport ban.
Mr Ong-art argued the Supreme Court had made it clear it was not within its authority to suggest a passport ban and that this power lay with the Foreign Ministry.
The Democrat MP also said that Section 21(3) of the passport regulation states clearly that the ministry has the authority to deny a passport to a person who is not allowed to leave the country.
Mr Surapong said Thaksin was allowed by the Supreme Court to leave the country to travel to Japan and China.
"It isn't about a ban on travelling overseas. The court did give him permission to travel temporarily. So the [ministry] officials could not deny him a passport," he said.
Mr Surapong and Mr Ong-art also exchanged barbs over Thaksin's right to hold a Thai passport.
According to the foreign minister, as a Thai national, Thaksin needs the passport as a means of identification when travelling overseas.
"But it doesn't take a genius to know whether a convicted person should be given a passport or not. If he has to get a passport, it should be a passport to jail," Mr Ong-art retorted.
The Democrat also attacked Mr Surapong for lying to the public about when the passport was given to the deposed prime minister.
Mr Surapong claimed he simply revoked the ban issued by the Abhisit administration and had nothing to do with the process of issuing a new one.
DSI chief Tharit Pengdit yesterday denied the agency revoked the warrant for Thaksin's arrest on terrorism charges.
He said the DSI had finished its investigation and forwarded it to prosecutors.
He insisted there was no tampering with the DSI's database to help revoke the arrest warrant as claimed by the Democrat Party.