Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I'm no troublemaker, says Kasit

via CAAI

Published: 14/03/2011
Newspaper section: News

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya insists he has not been a "troublemaker" for Thailand's neighbouring countries during his two-year tenure.

Mr Kasit spoke to four selected reporters yesterday before the censure debate which starts tomorrow and runs for four days.

Mr Kasit is one of 10 ministers to be grilled by the Puea Thai Party over a range of allegations.

The corner he will fight covers his handling of the Thai-Cambodian border disputes.

Mr Kasit insisted that neither he nor the government had instigated conflict with any neighbouring countries.

Instead, he said since he took up the position, he has helped promote a wide range of cooperative efforts. including trade, tourism and investment.

"There is no evidence that I or the government have created problems," he said.

"There has only been accusations both from inside and outside parliament without acknowledging [the positive things] we have done over the past two years."

Mr Kasit said he only knew of three allegations made against him since he took up the ministerial position, and insisted all three were baseless.

The first allegation was that he used the word "tramp" in reference to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in October 2008 when he spoke on the People's Alliance for Democracy's stage during its protest against the People Power Party-led government

The alleged remark came at a time when the Cambodian premier was demanding the Thai army withdraw troops from Preah Vihear temple, which is disputed by both countries.

Mr Kasit said the second allegation stemmed from the meaning of his words being distorted.

He said he once praised Hun Sen as having the heart of a lion but reporters who disliked him misinterpreted the phrase and only quoted Mr Kasit calling Hun Sen a "gangster".

He said he apologised to Hun Sen but the opposition party nevertheless intends to grill him in parliament about the matter.

The third claim was that he had hit someone in Russia, which Mr Kasit denounced as a plain lie.

"If I had done that, I could not have become ambassador," he said.

Mr Kasit said the tense relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been a problem since before the current administration took power, but he said this government had tried the best of any to solve it.

He said during a visit to Phnom Penh soon after taking his ministerial post, he "told Hun Sen that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and I had no conflict of interest and we tried to build up the relationship [between the two countries]".

He said the government and the Foreign Affairs Ministry did not know exactly what had happened in the past with Cambodia but he could clarify all current positions to parliament during the censure debate.

Mr Kasit believed he has been frequently criticised because his personality did not sit well with the opposition, and not because of his ministerial role.

"My face might look aggressive but I have never lied to the media or tried to please anybody just to get a vote," he said. He admitted he sometimes might have made "a slip of the tongue", but he put this down to him simply being an ordinary person prone to making occasional mistakes just like any other.

"What I fear most is that the public won't know the facts [behind the allegations] because this society has been distorted," Mr Kasit said.

"I thought I would play by the rules and I never thought I would become a political target."

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