Parties slug it out over Phuket billboards

PHUKET TOWN: Accusations are flying across the political divide in a slinging match that broke out on the eve of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s party congress in Phuket this weekend. With more than 300 Thai Rak Thai (TRT) MPs gathering from today in the heartland of the opposition Democrat Party, billboards began appearing around the island about three weeks ago, asking, “Is it true that the rich will not cheat?” In reaction, the PM was reported to have told a meeting of cabinet earlier this week, “It is true that the rich do not normally cheat, but those who cheat and are still not rich should watch out. “This Government will not spare these people. The person who put up the posters should also watch out, especially the wife who gave Sor Por Kor 4-01 to her husband in Phuket,” sources quoted PM Thaksin as saying. It was taken as an apparent reference to Phuket Democrat MP Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr. Last night K. Anchalee joined fellow Democrat MPs Suwit Sa-Ngiamkul and Chalermlak Kebsab at the party’s offices in Phuket Town to talk about the TRT conference, the posters, and the PM’s alleged reaction. The MPs said that the posters were not intended to create antagonism, simply to remind the Government to be effective and honest. K. Anchalee said PM Thaksin should follow through on some of the development projects begun by former Democrat PM Chuan Leekpai if he wanted to win the respect of voters in the South. “K. Thaksin was the one who announced that he would fight corruption, yet there has been corruption in his Government recently,” she said. Asked about the quote from the PM that appeared to be directed at her, K. Anchalee said, “Did he really say that? I don’t think the Prime Minister of Thailand should descend to that kind of comment.” K. Suwit added, “We have the right to express our ideas. People who have a democratic soul or heart will not show disgust in something that they do not agree with. Only dictators do that.” There were about 15 of the billboards in Phuket but others could be found in Phang Nga and Krabi and in other parts of the country, he said. The TRT MPs will be meeting at the Phuket Arcadia Beach Resort until Sunday, to discuss, among other things, campaign strategy for 2005.

Phuket News
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