Wednesday, February 21, 2007

All the Kooks Are Coming Out Against Somkid: Looks Like He Will Be Calling It Quits Wednesday Morning


Somkid may resign from his govt post

Former finance minister upset at attack over his new role; will make statement today in response to demands he quit

Somkid Jatusripitak, who was appointed as an economic envoy for the government late last week, looks likely to resign from the post today amid growing political pressure, sources said last night.

A source close to him said yesterday that Somkid had become unhappy at the growing criticism about his new assignment by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

Pimol Srivikorn, a former Thai Rak Thai Party MP for Bangkok, said Somkid would hold a press conference late this morning at the Intercontinental Hotel to talk about the matter.

Somkid was the economic architect for the former government.

Earlier yesterday, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) called for Somkid's resignation.

The PAD also warned of rising tensions if the new government continued to welcome individuals associated with ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The group called on Su-rayud to heed the lesson of Somkid's appointment and avoid making further controversial decisions involving the Thaksin regime before consulting the public.

"By a unanimous decision of its five members, the PAD is opposed to Somkid's appointment, which it views as cause for social division," PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila said.

Suriyasai said Somkid's track record would trigger confusion over the government's policy direction.

Somkid was the key proponent of "Thaksinomics", which he said was the opposite of the sufficiency economy theory. Somkid was also linked to a graft inquiry relating to the rubber sapling scandal, he said.

"Somkid has never shown any remorse for his involvement in the Thaksin regime nor his role in the free-trade negotiations with China and Australia, which triggered many negative impacts for the country," Suriyasai said.

PAD member Sondhi Lim-thongkul said he did not approve of Somkid's comeback, as suggested in the press.

"I haven't met with Somkid for more than two years, yet some newspapers skewed their reports to depict my blessing for him," Sondhi said.

Sondhi said Somkid exploited him in order to return to the political limelight.

PAD member Somkiart Pong-paiboon said Somkid was a two-faced politician, who pretended to advocate sufficiency economy while supporting instead populist policies, as advocated by the previous regime.

In its statement, the PAD vowed to continue exerting pressure until its demand for Somkid's resignation was met.

However, Council for National Security chairman General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said the clash of views over Somkid's appointment would dissipate.

"I don't anticipate street protests against Somkid to happen like the anti-Thaksin rallies last year," he said.

Sonthi dismissed speculation that events leading to the September 19 coup would happen again. "I don't think I am ready for another power seizure," he said.

Lawmaker Prapan Koonmee said yesterday Surayud was duped by a scam hatched by big business to appoint Somkid, who is seen as a successor of the Thaksin Shinawatra regime.

"Unknown to the prime minister, a group of big capitalists planned to secure a comeback for Somkid in the past two months," Prapan said.

Prapan said he quit his two responsibilities last week as a government whip and a publicity campaigner to highlight the government's performance, although he retains his position in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

He blamed Surayud for making a hasty decision without consulting concerned parties.

"By bringing back Somkid, the prime minister has demonstrated a lack of understanding for public sentiment," he said.

Prapan claimed that market leaders for alcoholic beverages, consumer products and agro-food industry and a capitalist who developed the land where the prime minister's residence is located had conspired for the return of Somkid.

These capitalists wanted to pave the way for Somkid to protect their vested interests after the exit of Thaksin, he said. A former newspaper columnist had helped by plotting a publicity blitz to portray Somkid in a favourable light.

With his new position, Somkid gained undue standing in society and his association with the government was like a shield to being investigated for myriad graft violations that happened while he was in power, he said.

Meanwhile, the NLA is coordinating with the PM's Office to schedule a debate on Somkid's appointment, setting a venue for a possible rebuttal by Surayud.

Samatcha Hunsara,

Wattana Khamchu

The Nation

It looks like all the usual suspects are coming out against the Somkid appointment, which at least says to me that there are some people in the country who are politically consistent, unlike the editors at The Nation and Bangkok Post who called it a "bold move."

At least we no longer have to hear about how Somkid will educate the stupid farang about Juntanomics, oh, I mean Sufficiency Theory.

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