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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

VCD decision before poll

PPP sec-gen Surapong says party did not solicit for Thaksin's assistance

December 11, 2007

The Election Commission is expected to decide whether to hold the People Power Party (PPP) accountable for the controversial video CDs before the December 23 election, but PPP secretary-general Surapong Suebwonglee has tried to pin the blame on one of the 111 banned political executives.

"The mastermind behind the distribution of the recorded remarks of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is among the 111 and none of the PPP candidates are involved in the matter," Surapong said yesterday.

He admitted that Thaksin's remarks could be construed as an attempt to sway votes for PPP candidates, a duty reserved for party executives, but he claimed the PPP had no involvement in soliciting Thaksin's assistance.

"If anyone speaking in favour of the PPP is assumed to be doing the job of a party executive, then the PPP has tens of thousands of party executives," he said, dismissing the allegation about Thaksin's domination of PPP.

He also said the party would look into the allegation that three Hong Kong businessmen tried to smuggle Bt60 million in cash into the country. The funds were allegedly destined for the PPP campaigning.

EC member Sumeth Ubanisakorn said the investigation into the distribution of Thaksin's remarks should be completed in three to seven days - well before the casting of votes.

"The EC will have to complete the fact-finding probe before determining charges and the culprits involved," he said.

Sumeth said the facts would show if the PPP was involved. The central issue, he added, was whether the release of Thaksin's remarks was timed to influence the voting outcome and not when the comments were actually made.

PPP leader Samak Sundaravej argued earlier that the comments were recorded before the start of campaigning.

EC secretary-general Suthiphon Thaveechaigarn said the EC would debate two key issues today - whether Thaksin acted as if he was a PPP party executive, which would have violated his five-year ban, and whether PPP was linked to distribution of VCDs.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he wanted to defeat People Power at the polling stations instead of seeing it dissolved because of campaign violations.

"The PPP should abide by the election law in order to allow the people to pass judgement on it," he said.

He said the race had boiled down to a choice between him and PPP leader Samak as the next prime minister. "Voters will have to decide whether they want me or Samak to steer the country's future."

The PPP had become a constant target to be picked on, he said, starting from classified documents showing a plot to undermine it to the VCDs. And he was concerned over what might happen in the 10 days before the ballot.

Junta secretary-general Winai Phattiyakul said he would leave it up to the EC to rule whether Thaksin tampered with the electoral process. "It is clear that Thaksin wants to grab publicity to sway the outcome," he said.

Puea Pandin Party leader Suwit Khunkitti urged judicial proceedings to be fast tracked for cases involving Thaksin in order to put an end to bickering by the former PM's opponents and supporters.

The Nation

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