THAILAND: Thaksin to file criminal lawsuit against Sondhi
Prime Minister Thaksin charges his leading critic with defamation in letter to Privy Council president
Thursday, September 7, 2006
By Surasak Glahan, Wassana Nanuam and Apiradee Treerutkuarkul
Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will file a criminal suit against publisher Sondhi Limthongkul, charging him with defaming his character in the open letter he submitted to Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda yesterday.
Mr Sondhi yesterday submitted the letter to Gen Prem through his secretary with messages exposing what he called "the Thaksin regime".
Thai Rak Thai legal expert Vichit Plangsrisakul said the letter damaged Mr Thaksin's reputation.
The party was also considering filing another lawsuit against Mr Sondhi for remarks which were deemed to have put Thai Rak Thai at a disadvantage ahead of the general election.
"Mr Sondhi's action could make the party lose popularity and votes," he said, adding the media activist might face charges filed with the Election Commission (EC) for violating election law.
"If the EC is unable to proceed, the party will file the case with the courts," he said.
He denied the legal action was intended to stop planned gatherings of the People's Alliance for Democracy in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan.
Yesterday, Gen Prem did not leave his residence to see the PAD. The letter and birthday card were handed to his secretary, Vice-Admiral Pachun Tamprateep.
"An attempt to drag Gen Prem into politics would only put him under strain," a source close to him said.
On Saturday, doctors, teachers of medical science at 11 universities and 32 health groups protested against the caretaker prime minister but promised not to let their campaign disrupt their services.
The group, led by Chulalongkorn University's Network for the Promotion of Ethical Democracy, also called on state officials nationwide to pressure Mr Thaksin to resign.
But social thinker Prawase Wasi yesterday warned their move would unnecessarily intensify the political conflict.
"The public health system is more honoured and dignified than the political system. Public health workers should not take sides and make the situation even worse," he said during an annual academic conference held by the Public Health Ministry. "Fighting is just a waste of time."
Dr Prawase said the country was now in a deep political crisis that might develop into violence or a bloody confrontation. Health groups should instead help defuse the tensions.
He believed the political polarisation brought about by the government was just temporary and would soon end.
"The country will survive without Mr Thaksin as leader. It is not necessary for health groups to focus only on this person."
Date Posted: 9/7/2006