By THOMAS FULLER
The head of Thailand’s army, after months of neutrality, tells government opponents to “compose yourselves.”
Thailand's Leader Accuses Critical Panel of Appearing Biased
Updated Feb. 20, 2014 9:19 a.m. ET
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck says she is innocent against corruption charges despite her rice subsidy program paying local farmers at 50% above market rates. The WSJ's Warangkana Chomchuen has the details.
BANGKOK—Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra fought back on Thursday, accusing the anticorruption agency alleging she mismanaged a multibillion-dollar rice subsidy of appearing biased and in a rush to judgment.
"If there is real justice and if there is no hidden agenda, the [agency] shouldn't finalize my case in a rushed manner…that will play into the hands of those who want to overthrow the government," she said in a posting on her official Facebook page.
Ms. Yingluck's comment was one of her most assertive in recent weeks against opponents who have pummeled her with challenges in the streets and courts, while her power to counter them has been curtailed. Protesters have pushed Ms. Yingluck to dissolve Parliament, leaving her to function in a caretaker capacity.
Ms. Yingluck warned that the actions of the National Anti-Corruption Commission so far put it at risk of being seen as siding with her opponents. The panel, which has powers to launch impeachment or criminal trials against politicians, is entrusted to maintain impartiality.
The agency's spokesman didn't return calls seeking comments.
Ms. Yingluck said the anticorruption panel spent three weeks on the investigation, too little time from her perspective while similar complaints against the previous administration were still pending.
The anticorruption panel said on Tuesday it intended to formally charge Ms. Yingluck for failing to prevent massive financial losses to the state that stem from her flagship rice subsidy. Ms. Yingluck maintained that she was innocent.
Ms. Yingluck was summoned to hear charges on Feb. 27 and defend herself. If found guilty, she would be suspended from duty and sent to an impeachment trial in the Senate.
On Thursday, Ms. Yingluck reiterated that she was innocent and the program was aimed at helping farmers, key supporters of her Pheu Thai Party. The government has been buying rice from local farmers at up to 50% above market rates.
In another blow to Ms. Yingluck, Thailand's Civil Court on Wednesday stripped the government of power under the state of emergency to quell monthslong antigovernment protests. The court left the emergency decree in place, but barred the authorities from using force to disperse the demonstrators, dismantle protest sites and block protesters to use certain areas, determining it would violate the protesters' right to rally.
The government's special security command said in a statement Thursday that it would appeal the civil court's decision, which it said has left the country without adequate law enforcement to deal with the unrest.
Judges cited a previous ruling by the country's Constitutional Court that the protests have been peaceful and ordered that demonstrators' rights be protected.
The ruling has raised eyebrows after footage of clashes between riot police and protesters on Tuesday showed that some of the protesters were armed with guns. Four protesters and a policeman were killed. At least 20 riot police suffered injuries from grenade explosions.
Emboldened by the court's ruling, hundreds of protesters rallied Thursday outside offices of the Shinawatra's property development company to pile pressure on Ms. Yingluck, who served as a chairwoman before taking office. Though declining in number, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and his followers vow to keep up their fight to overthrow Ms. Yingluck's government and root out what they see as the influence of her older brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006.
Ms. Yingluck has been struggling to return to power after she dissolved Parliament in December. Snap elections on Feb. 2, which her Pheu Thai Party is expected to win, were partly disrupted by protesters.
The country's independent body to organize the vote has been slow to hold a rerun vote in the disrupted areas against the government's wish to hold it sooner. The Election Commission's most outspoken commissioner has also threatened to seek a court's ruling whenever a disagreement arises between the agency and the government.
According to the agency's estimate, a new government may not be formed until at least May. Until then, Ms. Yingluck's caretaker government has limited power. Any major decisions, such as spending approval, are subject to a final green light by the Election Commission.
泰國總理英拉(Yingluck Shinawatra) 的大米計畫?