Friday, January 28, 2011

PAD severs ties with 'fake' Kasit

Just pretending:
A Chinook helicopter from the Lop Buri-based General Support Aviation Battalion takes part in an artillery air transport exercise at Surathampitak army camp in Nakhon Ratchasima. PRASIT TANGPRASERT
Former bedfellows fall out over Cambodia

Bangkok Post

Unity in the People's Alliance for Democracy has taken a further blow after a messy parting of the ways with its former champion, Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya.

Mr Kasit was attacked by the PAD yesterday after he refused to accept the group's demands that the government revoke a 2000 border agreement with Cambodia and withdraw from the World Heritage Committee.

The alliance also demands that the government use force to expel Cambodian soldiers and villagers from the 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area on the border.

The PAD severed ties with the foreign minister after he insisted on a policy of negotiation rather than confrontation with Cambodia.

The conflict of loyalties between his role as minister and membership of the PAD has caused Mr Kasit political headaches in the past.

He joined the PAD as a vocal member of its campaign to overthrow former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. Mr Kasit criticised Thaksin for alleged conflicts of interest in his government's dealings with Cambodia.

As an unelected member of the Democrat Party-led coalition, Mr Kasit said yesterday he must follow the government's policy of forging peace with neighbouring countries.

Mr Kasit said he had chosen to engage with neighbouring countries to build peace and prosperity, rather than seek confrontation.

"If there is any conflict [with neighbouring countries], we have to negotiate peacefully as friends," the minister said.

"The PAD should not act like a baby or react with emotion."

Thailand would not employ a policy of confrontation in solving problems with Cambodia as the two countries have common business interests and natural resources that they could share, Mr Kasit said.

"I'd like to plead [with the PAD]: This is the peaceful and right means of solving the problem, which will create mutual benefits without affecting Thai investors in Cambodia."

Political analysts said Mr Kasit's break with the PAD exposed further cracks within the movement.

The Thai Patriots Network and the Santi Asoke sect have separated from the PAD and are holding their own demonstrations even though their protest demands are related to the same sovereignty issues with Cambodia.

The analysts felt the PAD's credibility could be eroded now it had turned against a "friend" whom it once regarded as an authoritive figure in foreign affairs.

Attacking Mr Kasit personally rather than the government could also dilute the PAD's message.

On stage last night, PAD co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul took to task people he called "fake" PAD members - a reference to Mr Kasit. PAD spokesman Panthep Phongphuaphan said yesterday Mr Kasit had forgotten his own duties and role as foreign minister.

He said the minister failed to tell people what his ministry would do to protect national sovereignty, even though that was part of his job.

Mr Panthep said the minister allowed Cambodia to detain seven Thais who were arrested on what the PAD regarded as Thai territory.

Historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom said Mr Kasit was "sick" and had betrayed the nation. He urged Mr Abhisit to dismiss him from the cabinet.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang yesterday dismissed the prime minister's remark that revocation of the 2000 agreement might lead to conflicts or even war.

The memorandum required the two countries to base their border demarcation on a 1:200,000 map that put Thailand at a disadvantage, he said.

Meanwhile, the PAD and the Thai Patriots Network yesterday refused a government request that they abandon their protests on Phitsanulok and Ratchadamnoen Nok roads, claiming moving would put protesters in danger.


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