Suthep urges rice farmers to sue govt

national February 09, 2014 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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PDRC chief plans fundraising drive tomorrow to pay for their legal expenses

Farmers should sue the prime minister and other relevant Cabinet members for defaulting on payments due to them under the rice-pledging scheme, anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday.
Suthep, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), suggested that farmers use their receipts for the pledged rice as evidence to file suits against the PM, her deputy, the Commerce Minister and his deputy.
He said the receipts the farmers were given for rice pledged by them indicated when the payment would be made to them and if the government failed to honour its commitment, it could be sued for breach of contract.
“Whoever is involved in irregularities that have inflicted this woeful plight on farmers would definitely face lawsuits. The whole Yingluck Cabinet may finally be sued. If that is the case, the Cabinet members would be banned from leaving the country and their assets may be frozen, he said.
Suthep said that PDRC protesters on Friday had marched for nine hours to seek public donations and believed they had received about Bt6 million, which would be given to farmers to help them pay for their food and travelling expenses during their protest in Bangkok.
He expressed confidence that when he solicits more donations tomorrow, he would be able to meet the target of Bt10 million, which would be given to farmers to pay for their legal expenses in suing the government for the default.
PDRC leader Phra Buddha Issara has offered legal assistance to farmers in lodging complaints against the government in order to get the money owed to them under the rice-pledging scheme. He urged farmers from every province to submit their receipts to him. He said tomorrow he would seek legal advice from the Office of the Attorney-General and the Justice Ministry permanent secretary on the issue of the farmers’ dues.
He also called on farmers to withdraw their protest at the Commerce Ministry and gather at the PDRC rally base on Chaeng Wattana Road instead, saying their protest at the ministry would be fruitless, as the ministry has no money.
The monk said he would also ask Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith to accept the farmers’ complaint as a special case. He said if Tarit accepts his request, DSI officials could resume work at Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit has accused the PDRC of using farmers as its political tool without sincerity to help alleviate their plight. “The PDRC has been pressuring state and private banks against giving the government loans to pay farmers. Our party will never abandon farmers,’’ he said. 
Democrat Party spokesperson Chavanond Intarakomalyasut raised questions over how the money in the rice-pledging scheme had dried up despite claims that the government had been able to continuously sell rice. Why did the government not seek loans to pay farmers before dissolving the House? he asked.
He also asked why the government does not give the rice back to the farmers if it can’t sell the rice. He suspected good quality rice was sold to people with close ties to the government.
He also questioned why the government cancelled the government-to-government sale with China. He said if the deal had been carried out in a straightforward manner, the government would not have had to fear investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

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