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Thursday, September 28, 2017 11:38:05 PM
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Yingluck sentenced to five years jail can`t be seen as justified

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29th-Sep-2017       
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FORMER Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is convicted and sentenced by Thailand's Supreme Court in absentia to five years in prison on Wednesday for mismanaging a rice subsidy scheme that cost the country billions of dollars. Under the rice scheme, Yingluck's government bought rice from farmers at above-market prices, leading to stockpiles and distorted global prices. Losses amounted to $8 billion, according to the military government.  Yingluck was banned from politics for five years in 2015 but remained the unofficial face of the Pheu Thai Party and the populist movement that supports it. She fled abroad last month fearing that the military government, set up after a coup in 2014, would seek a harsh sentence. No corruption allegation was made against her. So the punishment is political and not popular in Thailand.

For more than a decade, Thai politics have been dominated by a power struggle between Thailand's traditional elite, including the army and affluent Bangkok-based upper classes, and the Shinawatra family, which includes Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was also expelled by a coup.

In May 2011, the Pheu Thai Party, which maintains close ties to Thaksin, nominated Yingluck as their candidate for Prime Minister in the 2011 election. She campaigned on a platform of national reconciliation, poverty eradication, and corporate income tax reduction and won a landslide victory. After mass protests against her government in late 2013, she asked for Dissolution of Parliament on 9 December 2013, triggering a snap election, but continued to act as caretaker prime minister. On 7 May 2014, the Constitutional Court of Thailand removed Yingluck Shinawatra from the office of caretaker prime minister and defence minister following months of political crisis.

The court found her guilty of charges of abuse of power over the transfer of National Security Chief Thawil Pliensri in 2011 to make way for a Pheu Thai supporter. In the wake of the May 2014 military coup, Yingluck was arrested along with former cabinet ministers and political leaders of all parties and held at an army camp for a few days while the coup was consolidated.

Army in Thailand have become too easy a threat for political government to evolve into a strong and just democracy. The army needs strong justification like corruption and widespread oppression, and not what is subjectively regarded as abuse of power, to disrupt normal process of government. Otherwise, there will be relationship of conflict between the army and the political leadership which cannot be welcome for peaceful progress of the country.


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