Mon, Jan 26, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Thaksin accuses Thailand’s new PM of copying him

AFP , BANGKOK

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday launched an attack on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s first month in office, accusing his foe of copying his policies.

Speaking on Thai TV from an undisclosed location abroad, Thaksin accused Abhisit’s government of espousing populist policies such as loans for the poor and expanded social security simply to win over detractors.

Only a couple of well-wishers showed up at the anti-government satellite TV station broadcasting the phone interview, a week ahead of a planned rally by Thaksin’s supporters that will be a test of his continuing popularity at home.

“I am not concerned who will copy my policies, because I am more concerned about people,” Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in September 2006, said on Democracy Television (DTV).

“When I was in government, I listened to people who really had problems ... I did not just stand at the top of the tower issuing policies,” he said.

Oxford-educated Abhisit came to power in a parliamentary vote on Dec. 15 after a court dissolved the Thaksin-linked ruling People Power Party (PPP), bringing an end to six months of disruptive anti-government protests.

A number of small parties and former PPP lawmakers defected to Abhisit’s Democrat Party-led coalition, enabling it to narrowly win the vote and draining Thaksin of power less than a year after his allies won elections.

Abhisit has announced a US$3.28 billion financial stimulus package aimed at reviving Thailand’s flagging economy after a devastating week of airport protest blockades last November and December.

The package includes handouts of 2,000 baht (US$57) to low income families, tax cuts, subsidies and loans for education.

“The government has pushed forward measures to restore the economy and help the people,” Abhisit said in his weekly television address yesterday, adding that the 2,000-baht handouts could also be offered to state employees and teachers.

Thaksin, however, accused the government of implementing the policies purely for political gain, saying that “the country will be ruined” if it is allowed to continue along that path.

“What [the government] has done will not have permanent and long-term results. It is like hiring people to mow grass — the grass grows the next day and for the next seven days, but the money disappears,” he said.

Thaksin was sentenced in absentia in October to two years in jail for abuse of power.

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