Monday, May 18, 2009

Thailand urges Burma to achieve political process acceptable to all

(Nation) -Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva talks to CNN on various issues including Thai politics, economy as well as Burma.

On Aung San Suu Kyi:

PM Abhisit : We are concerned. For one thing the state of her health is of concern itself and secondly we have encouraged, you know, asked Asean, Myanmar (Burma), to continue on her roadmap to achieve a political process which is inclusive and therefore be acceptable to everybody, the international community included.

Coren : The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this is just an excuse to try and keep her in detention for longer. Do you share those views?

PM Abhisit: I won't make any personal assessments. I can say that I am concerned and I would like to see this issue resolved and that Myanmar is able to deliver on her pledge to implement a roadmap.

On Thailand 's Politics:

Coren: Prime Minister,you came to power promising to heal divisions within your country. So far that hasn't happened. You've had protests, you've had violent clashes, Asean summit was cancelled, you had to call a state of emergency…How do you plan to heal these deep divisions within your country?

PM Abhisit: I think everybody, including myself, is realistic enough to know that we couldn't really achieve complete stability, you know, within a few months, but the stance that my government has taken, the vigorous, the way that we are pursuing political solutions I think now provide a channel by which we can make sure that everybody can participate, all voices can be heard and that we can kind find a solution that will be acceptable, if not satisfactory to everybody.

I think the Thai people have also demonstrated that they recognize that the longer this goes on, the more we are hurting ourselves and they have demonstrated that they will want a solution, a peaceful solution, a democratic solution, a political solution to the problems.

Coren: Prime Minister, you weren't elected to power by the people and your critics say that you don't have the mandate.

PM Abhisit: The majority of parliamentarians decided to support me because they believe the country needs change after two governments tried to take the country out of the crisis, and frankly speaking were not able to do so. And now that I've got into power, I am working for everybody and I continue to enjoy the support of majority of parliamentarians. I should add that since I've assumed power, more parliamentarians now support me.

Coren: Some would say to clear up all the confusion you could call national elections. Why won't you do this?

PM Abhisit: I could, but I think there are three preconditions before that. First, I think we need to have a cooling off period. I don't want to see violent election campaigns in Thailand .

I think that would be a big blow to Thai democracy.

Added to that we need to have a rule, a set of rules, that would be acceptable to all. It wouldn't make any sense to have a new set of elections and then some parties complain that they don't like to constitution.

They might not accept the results or they may get involved in election fraud, they get disbanded and we're back to square one. Why would we want to walk around in circles? Why not get a new set of rules in place that will be acceptable to all before elections are called.

Thirdly of course, as a country and as politicians we have responsibility to our people to make sure we have a good economic program in place during these very difficult economic times for our people. You know, people are gonna be unemployed, people are gonna be hit by the crisis. Why have disruptions now?

On Thailand 's Economy:

PM Abhisit : We are launching a second stimulus package now. The first I think has been aimed at protecting the least fortunate, the poorest, so we have a lot of support for farmers, for low-income earners, training for the unemployed and programs such as free education and income support for the elderly, which I think has been able to keep up purchasing power domestically to compensate obviously from the losses of activities following the contraction of exports and tourism, so that's the first phase.

I believe that by the second and third quarter, the rate of contraction in the economy will clearly decline. We're actually seeing signs of that already, but now we want to launch the next phase, which is providing investment for the country to upgrade our infrastructure, to support economic growth in all key sectors of the country and that we will do this with the amount of money of $45 million US dollars over the next three years, roughly around 5 percent of GDP each year.

Coren: So what exactly do you say to investors that are concerned about the political situation?

PM Abhisit : That we are dealing with the problem, that we are realistic about it. I never told them that this was going to be easy, but that we have a clear approach and that we will do our best not to have this affect our economic program. 52:32

Coren: Your tourism industry employs about 2 million people, it accounts for 10 percent of the nation's GDP. Now it's taken a huge hit as a result of the financial crisis, but also as a result of the political instability. What can be done to keep tourism afloat?

PM Abhisit : We are seeing a drop of around maybe 10 to 15 percent on average. A rate I think is probably better or less than the drop in rate of global travel, so that suggests that Thailand continues to be an attractive destination. Obviously people are concerned about the instability in politics.

We are dealing with that through the reconciliation program, but we are also actively implementing a number of policies and measures to make sure that the tourist industry can survive and will thrive in the future.

For short terms measure we waive visa fees, we reduce landing fees, we now provide insurance, support of insurance, and for the longer term we are going to upgrade our tourist attractions. We are also actively pursuing a strategy of national development where the service sector and the tourist sector plays a very significant role.

Coren : You've got falling consumer confidence, your unemployment rate is rising, how will Thailand come out of the global economic crisis?

PM Abhisit: We are protecting and supporting people who are affected, in fact the, despite the fact that the employment rate has gone up from its usual rate of around just over 1 percent to now over 2 percent. It is actually less than people have anticipated and we track the numbers of layoffs very closely.

They seem to be on the decline since February and in some sectors we learned that orders are picking up. As I said, as the elements of our stimulus package get to work we hope that demand will be propped up so that we can cushion this effect and if we can achieve positive growth by the end of the year then I think that things will be looking up.

Transcript is provided by CNN

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too