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Special Report

Graft charges continue to haunt Yingluck

EC probes claim that she aided Pongsapat's city election bid

Although the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has dismissed an allegation that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra submitted a false asset declaration over the Bt30-million loan extended to Ad Index Co Ltd, the PM's path is still paved with thorns as several complaints of corruption, abuse of authority and dereliction of duty have been lined up against her.

Yingluck has said she would like to complete her four-year term, but her wish is achievable only if she can clear herself from allegations of irregularities involving projects ranging from the rice-pledging scheme to the dispute over the Bt2-trillion loan bill; as well as charges that she failed to provide details of procurement procedures and mean prices on the Internet and that she interfered in the transfer of the Defence Ministry permanent secretary.

The next issue that could cost Yingluck her premiership is the allegation that she abused her authority. Green group coordinator Suriyasai Katasila alleged that Yingluck as PM rallied to help Pheu Thai Party gubernatorial candidate Pongsapat Pongcharoen by misleading voters. He submitted to the Election Commission (EC) taped scripts of Yingluck's statements made at campaign rallies. The Yingluck statement in question, Suriyasai said, was that if residents voted for Pongsapat, the government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration would work together without conflict. Bangkok voters would gain benefits if they voted for Number 9 because the government had funds to support mega projects, such as more Skytrain routes. But if people voted for other candidates, they would not receive support from the government. Suriyasai said as the PM, Yingluck had the responsibility to provide mass transit systems and other services to the public in accordance with the constitution. The EC's panel is investigating the petition.

Bangkok Election Commission chairman Thaweesak Toochinda said Article 60 of the Local Election Act bans state officials from carrying out any activity that benefits candidates or causes them to be at a disadvantage. If found guilty, Yingluck would face up to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine up to Bt200,000 including a ten-year political ban.

A highly placed source in the EC said Yingluck said she did not use office hours to help Pongsapat campaign for votes - but he believes the law would look at the content of the speeches she made, not when she made them.

The source said Article 57 bans candidates and anyone else from promising to give assets or benefits which could be calculated in amounts of money. The EC has asked all television stations for full taped scripts Yingluck made at election rallies.


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