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PM downplays 'Thaksin' audio clip

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that Deputy Defence Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha had spoken to her by phone about the audio clip in which it is alleged he and Thaksin Shinawatra discussed a plot to bring the former prime minister back to Thailand.

Yingluck said Yuthasak had not offered many details about the clip and did not mention he would be quitting his job. She added that agencies would check the audio clip, but she was confident relations between the government and the military would not be adversely affected.

She declined to comment on whether the clip was leaked by politicians disappointed at not getting a Cabinet seat in the recent reshuffle and refused to say if the voice heard in the clip was her brother Thaksin's.

Yuthasak also declined to respond to media reports about the clip.

Pheu Thai Party leaders have ordered their MPs to refrain from commenting on the issue, saying their comments would only create negative consequences, as Yuthasak had already called the PM to discuss the issue.

Interior Minister and Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan said he had not listened to the clip but had read detailed accounts about it. He believed no damage would be caused to the country by the conversation in the clip.

"Even if the conversation was real, which part of it caused damage to the country? From what I have read, I didn't see anything that would harm the country. If some people interpret it as wrong, that's a personal issue," Charupong said.

Pheu Thai party-list MP Cherdchai Tantisirin called on the Information Technology and Communications Ministry to trace who leaked the clip, saying he believed the incident could delay Thaksin's return to Thailand by a further two or three years.

Worachai Hema, Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan, said the clip was not real but made by a group who wanted to sabotage the government by causing confrontation with the military. The group also made the fake clip to prevent Thaksin from returning home, Worachai said. He said the opposition, government opponents, and independent agencies have teamed up to bring down the government, which must fight against extra-constitutional power.

Dithaporn Sasasamit, Internal Security Operations Command spokesman, and a Defence Ministry aide, declined to comment on this issue or any relating to his superiors. However, he said what had happened would not affect the work of the military, which was a disciplined organisation.

Moreover, it would not hurt national security, as Thais and people in all neighbouring countries knew the military and its work record well, he said.


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