Tuesday, 15 February 2011

PM grilled over Cambodian oil rights claims

via CAAI

Abhisit says allegations are 'totally groundless'

Published: 15/02/2011

The People's Alliance for Democracy is challenging Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to clarify the group's claim that Thai political groups have a vested interest in oil wells in Cambodia.

Praphan: Wants live television debate

PAD spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan said yesterday the PAD had fresh evidence of Thai political groups' interests in Cambodia, and it wanted the prime minister to explain the issue.

Praphan Koonmee, spokesman for the PAD splinter group, Land Protection Power, said the PAD wanted the prime minister to hold a live TV debate with the group on the issue.

He said the media should be allowed to freely question each speaker so the public could weigh up the information from both parties.

Mr Abhisit has agreed to clarify his position on the yellow shirts' allegation even though he said the claims made by the PAD of certain Thai political groups having vested interests in oil exploration in Cambodia were groundless.

He said the PAD's information on the the dispute with Cambodia was old and focused on problems in the past that his government had solved.

He said the PAD's use of outdated information had confused people about the government's policies.

The government's position on the border disputes was clear, he said.

"We insist that the disputes could be settled by bilateral mechanisms, because the MoU [memorandum of understanding signed with Cambodia in 2000 to help settle border claims] is still in place," Mr Abhisit said.

"If the public is misled to believe that the Thai government could revoke the MoU any time, it would go to support the [Cambodia's] claim that the bilateral mechanisms could not settle the disputes."

The prime minister said the PAD should be more open-minded and compromise on its demands. It is well known that Cambodia will benefit from Thailand's withdrawal of its membership of the World Heritage Committee.

"I understand the PAD's concerns. Let's talk things out," he said.

Pol Lt Gen Somyot Phumphanmuang, an assistant police chief who headed a team investigating the seizure of Bangkok commercial airports by the PAD in 2008, yesterday told reporters he had resigned as the investigation leader.

The announcement came after Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a core PAD leader, yesterday morning filed a lawsuit with the Civil Court, demanding 220 million baht in compensation plus 7.5% annual interest from Pol Lt Gen Somyot for charging him with terrorism.Pol Lt Gen Somyot showed reporters copies of his resignation letter dated Feb 11, which was tendered to the police chief Wichean Potephosree.

He wrote in the letter that he had been under pressure from several groups since being appointed to head the investigation team. His involvement in the case had affected his family and close friends, and so he asked the police chief to find a replacement.

Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order had assigned his bureau to enforce the law against any PAD supporter found to that violated the Internal Security Act in place in seven districts of Bangkok.

The bureau will summon those violating the ISA, including PAD leaders, to hear charges. Those who fail to report will face arrest warrants.

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