Abhisit takes aim at PM’s no-show

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has lashed out at caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for failing to turn up in person to acknowledge charges involving the rice-pledging scheme.

Red-shirt supporters block the entrance to the office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to prevent commissioners from working. Video by Tawatchai Kemkumnerd.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) announced its decision to charge the premier for dereliction of duty last week and she was called in to answer the charge on Thursday.

The anti-graft agency said it had found evidence she knew about corruption in the rice scheme but failed to stop it.

Ms Yingluck chose not to report to the NACC office, but assigned her lawyer Pichit Chuenban to acknowledge the charge on her behalf. The premier said she was busy working in the North.

Meanwhile, red-shirt supporters turned up at the NACC office to protest against what they regard as an unfair investigation targeting Ms Yingluck.

They built a cement wall in front of the gate to prevent NACC officials from entering the compound.

Mr Abhisit said leaders in a democratic system should always attach importance to the scrutiny process and it is important for them to acknowledge accusations.

Premiers must be ready to answer accusations and ask supporters not to stir up trouble during the process, Mr Abhisit said.

The scrutiny of state power is also at the heart of the democratic system, he added.

Commenting on Ms Yingluck’s supporters who yesterday blocked the NACC office entrance, Mr Abhisit said the move was similar to what happened under Thaksin Shinawatra's government.

A similar movement opposing the justice system rose up under the Thaksin administration after claims arose that Thaksin had attempted to conceal his assets, Mr Abhisit said.

Mr Abhisit said protest movements that challenge the courts contribute to the political crisis.

Ms Yingluck’s failure to turn up means she was unwilling to cooperate with the scrutiny process, he said.

After acknowledging the charge, Ms Yingluck still has 15 days to testify in person or submit documents offering an explanation.

If it is found the charges carry weight, the NACC would point out grounds for guilt against Ms Yingluck, which means the premier must stop performing her official duties.

The NACC would then forward an impeachment case to the Senate for consideration.

Red-shirt supporters at the NACC office included the Radio for Democracy Network, led by Sornrak Malaithong, and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Nonthaburi chapter, led by Chaovarit Suriya.

Speaking on the stage in front of the NACC office, protest leaders lambasted the anti-graft commissioners, particularly chairman Vicha Mahakhun, for focusing on alleged corruption in the Yingluck government’s rice-pledging scheme rather than on similar cases during the Abhisit administration.

They vowed to camp out there until the NACC members resign.

According to an NACC source, the anti-graft commissioners were not present at the office.

The source said the NACC may have to hold its meetings elsewhere.

“The seizure achieves nothing as communications technology can help the NACC work easily,” the source added.

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