|‘My govt serves His Majesty’
Published on September 09, 2005 - Thaksin out to fight claims that his administration overlooked royal powers on the Jaruvan and military reshuffle issues
Speaking out for the first time yesterday against critics accusing his government of challenging royal powers, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra insis-ted he and his ministers were staunchly loyal to His Majesty the King.
Thaksin’s comments came two days after a high-profile debate on royal prerogative was organised at Thammasat University with the participation of such staunch critics of the government as maverick Thai Rak Thai party-list MP Pramuan Ruchanaseree, author of “Royal Powers”, and Senator Kaewsan Atibhodi.
During his second weekly “Meet the Press” interview, Thaksin dismissed statements by critical academics and politicians who had charged that his government was trying to curtail the political prerogatives of His Majesty the King.
“People are entitled to their opinions. It is up to their listeners, however, to decide how they like what they hear,’’ Thaksin said.
After three weeks in suspense, the annual military reshuffle received royal endorsement yesterday though the nomination of Visut Montriwat as auditor-general has not received Royal endorsement after 90 days have passed.
Thaksin rebuffed concerns that the swirling controversy over his government’s alleged supra-legal interference was bound to result in an even wider rift in Thailand’s political landscape. He stressed his government would remain careful not to act against the powers of His Majesty.
“You know, I graduated from the pre-cadet school and the police academy and I was a police paratrooper,” Thaksin said.
“I have been through a process that instilled in me a great sense of loyalty to the country and its monarchy. Please understand this and do not worry. I will not allow anyone to [try and impinge on the King’s authority].”
Thaksin said he was aware of the various charges against his government, but that he would not let “rumours” influence him in policymaking. “I will serve out my second four-year term without any problems,” the prime minister told the gathered reporters. “We will definitely meet every Thursday [at future “Meet the Press” events], don’t worry.”
He said his government was making it a high priority to address issues of social and economic malaise about which His Majesty was especially concerned.
Thaksin dismissed reports the government had been interfering with the contested post of auditor-general. He stressed the matter was entirely in the hands of the Senate, not the Cabinet. Under the Consti-tution, the government has no right to forward the nomination of an auditor-general for royal consent, he pointed out.
“Attempts have been made to implicate the government in the matter and accusations have been levelled at us, even though we have not done anything wrong,” he said.
“We have no power to [influence the decision]. It’s a pity that [so much misunderstanding] has resulted. The government has been strictly following the rules. People [who address the issue] must watch what they say before they speak up.”
Yet when Thaksin was asked to comment on Pramuan’s accusation that the prime minister had tried to resolve the matter personally by calling the beleaguered auditor-general Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka in order – it is speculated – to negotiate a deal with her, Thaksin became apparently agitated.
“I can call anyone I want,” he said. “Like anyone else, I pay Bt3 a minute on a phone call. But how would you know what subject I discussed with her in private?”
Thaksin also side-stepped a question whether he supported a proposal by Thai Rak Thai Party MPs to expel Pramuan because of his open rebellion against the party.
“It’s a problem among party members. It is normal that [when people argue] tongues and teeth collide,’’ he said.