Thai PM to resign over a cooking show?
chowdawg | September 8, 2008 at 09:50 amby
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So what do you do when your best efforts to evict your government have failed? When you are tired of protesting; when you are tired of your Opposition and protester leaders being arrested; when you are tired of blocking airports and delaying transportation routes; when you are tired of being held on charges of unlawful assembly and tired of refusing orders to disperse. What do you do next? Well, you start being creative in the kitchen.
It turns out that Samak Sundaravej was once the host of a Thai cooking show and continued to make guest appearances after his being elected to public office. If the court can prove that he received compensation for his appearances, he would be in breach of the constitution by working for a private company while he is prime minister and could be forced to resign. Sundaravej was in court today to defend his position.
Samak Sundaravej, the irascible rightwinger and passionate foodie, spent an hour in the witness box dismissing accusations that his extra-curricular activities violate the constitution. The constitutional court is due to make its ruling tomorrow, and if it finds Samak guilty the 73-year-old who took office at the head of a six-party coalition seven months ago could be forced to resign.
The cooking show, Tasting, Grumbling, a mix of tips on traditional Thai cooking and rants on subjects of his choosing, represents the most immediate threat to his power. Samak had hosted the show for several years before he became prime minister, though it went off the air after the government appointed by the leaders of the 2006 coup closed down the state broadcaster.
On taking office Samak hosted several of the shows after the channel was resurrected, finally stepping down two months into the job. Senators accused Samak of breaching the constitution by working for a private company while he is prime minister and filed a petition. In court today, Samak said he was not employed by the television company but received a small fee and the cost of his transportation to the studio.
If the court disqualifies Samak from office, it could defuse much of the political tension that has beset Thailand for months. "By making a quick decision, the court will help a lot in resolving the political crisis," said Suwat Apaipakdi, a lawyer for the senators who lodged the petition.
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