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Sun, February 18, 2007 : Last updated 23:37 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > National > More flak over role for Somkid

More flak over role for Somkid

'Too much of a popular capitalist for sufficiency'

The appointment of Thaksin Shinawatra's erstwhile right-hand man as an economic envoy has sparked criticism from observers who claim the former regime's populist brand of capitalism is incompatible with the junta's belief in sustainability.

National Legislative Assembly member Akapol Sorasuchart will tomorrow file a motion demanding an explanation of last week's appointment of former deputy prime minister Somkid Jatusripitak as economic envoy.

"Somkid was the architect of populist policies and political marketing, and I doubt whether he is qualified to become a spokesman for sufficiency-economy theory," Akapol said.

He voiced concern about Somkid's planned trips to Japan and China as ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra is in exile in Beijing.

"I fear that dispatching a top Thaksin aide could cause even greater confusion for Chinese investors," he said, adding that Somkid's trip might benefit Thaksin rather than boost investor confidence.

If the House debates his motion, Akapol said, he will urge Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to review the appointment.

Democrat Party deputy leader Alongkorn Pollabutr also said Somkid was the wrong man for the job. "Somkid's reputation is at complete odds with sufficiency-economy thinking," he said.

By an overnight switching of his allegiance from the ousted administration, Somkid has cast doubt on his integrity, Alongkorn said.

In defending the government's decision, Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram said Somkid had volunteered his services to help dispel international misunderstanding of the country's economic direction.

"As a man with vast experience, Somkid should make a positive contribution as a non-partisan volunteer," Nitya said.

He said he anticipated no confusion arising from Somkid's planned overseas trip.

Somkid is due to explain the new economic thinking and has no duties overlapping with those assigned to the Foreign Ministry or the economic team under Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula, he said.

Thai Rak Thai Party spokesman Sita Divari said the government had moved positively towards reconciliation by welcoming Somkid.

"Somkid has an in-depth knowledge of Thaksinomics and should be able to confirm there is no contradiction between that strategy and sufficiency-economy theory," Sita said.

Former Thai Rak Thai MP Chalermchai Ularnkul said Somkid's appointment demonstrated that his party had many resourceful members with proven track records on economic affairs.

"For the past four months, the people have seen no accomplishments by Pridiyathorn, and I think he should resign," Chalermchai said.

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