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Friday, January 17, 2014

Kris Aquino: No luck for would-be matchmaker!

Kris tweeted:“Came from Malacañang. Lunch for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She’s tall & slim & attractive! 44 yrs old, bagay (a good match) for P.Noy! ”
From TIME
Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is to be investigated for corruption relating to a controversial rice-pledging scheme, the latest obstacle for the 46-year-old premier who is currently facing mass rallies calling for her removal.

On Thursday, Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) confirmed that Yingluck will be among more than a dozen officials probed over a state program that purchased rice from farmers at above market rates. Plummeting global commodity prices means the botched initiative continues to cost the national purse tens of millions of dollars, while vast amounts of the grain lie rotting in warehouses.

“Those who oversaw the scheme knew there were losses but did not put a stop to it,” NACC spokeswoman Vicha Mahakhun told a press conference.

If deemed culpable, Yingluck would be forced to resign and banned from politics for five years.

According to Napisa Waitoolkiat, lecturer in Thai and Southeast Asian Studies at Payap University in Chiang Mai, the “elite are trying to use either a military or judicial coup to remove the current government.”

The news will certainly be a boost for anti-government protesters, who for almost three months have launched mass rallies aimed at unseating Yingluck. Since Monday, tens of thousands have occupied key intersections of the Thai capital and surrounded government institutions in order to make the country ungovernable.

At around noon on Friday, eight people were hurt when a grenade was lobbed at a procession led by protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who escaped unharmed. Tensions were already rising with shots fired, explosives hurled and late Thursday a photographer was allegedly roughed up by demonstration security personnel.

This escalation may also play into the hands of protesters eager to oust Yingluck, warns Napisa. “My military sources tell me that there is no way there would be a coup unless there were clashes — violence between the two [pro and anti-government] groups,” she says.

Thailand’s opposition claim the rice scheme has helped wealthy farmers and regional officials make political gains at the expense of the poor. Protesters also accuse Yingluck of being a puppet of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006 and now lives in Dubai following his conviction in absentia for abuse of power. The current unrest first flared after the introduction of a now-shelved amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return home a free man.

While the Shinawatra clan is popular in the rural northeast of the country, both Yingluck and Thaksin are vehemently despised by royalists and traditional elites of Bangkok and southern provinces. The south’s rubber farmers, too, have no loyalty to the Thaksins, since they do not benefit from state price-fixing despite facing similar global market pressures as rice farmers.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for the curtailing of rice pledging in its annual review of Thailand’s economy published in November. “The staff sees clear merit in replacing the rice pledging scheme with budgetary transfers targeted at low-income agricultural households,” said the IMF report, warning that otherwise overall public debt could rise to 53% of GDP by the end of 2018.

In addition, after missing a payment deadline on Wednesday, Yingluck is facing growing discontent from the rural voters the scheme was supposed to court. The President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association said around $5.2 billion is owed to the farmers.

The latest NACC ruling is just one of several judicial woes for Yingluck. A total of 308 MPs, mostly from her Pheu Thai party, are to be investigated for voting in favor of the amnesty bill after the Constitutional Court ruled the legislation illegal. There are similar legal actions pending over an amendment to allow foreign economic deals without parliamentary approval, and malfeasance regarding catastrophic flooding in 2011.

Yingluck has called snap elections for Feb. 2 to reassert her mandate, but a boycott by the main opposition Democrat Party and disruption by protesters continue to undermine any possibility of an election.

Yingluck Shinawatra (Thai: ยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร, RTGS: Yinglak Chinnawat, pronounced [jîŋ.lák tɕʰīn.nā.wát]; born 21 June 1967), or nickname Pu (Thai: ปู, pronounced [pūː], "crab"),[1] is a Thai businesswoman and politician, member of the Pheu Thai Party, the 28th and current Prime Minister of Thailand following the 2011 general election. Yingluck is Thailand's first female Prime Minister and at 45 is the youngest Prime Minister of Thailand in over 60 years.

She has one son, Supasek, with her common-law husband, Anusorn Amornchat. Anusorn was an executive of the Charoen Pokphand Group and managing director of M Link Asia Corporation PCL.[16] Her sister, Yaowapa Wongsawat, is the wife of former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat. From Wikipedia
She came, she saw—and she conquered Kris Aquino.
Kris tweeted:“Came from Malacañang. Lunch for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She’s tall & slim & attractive! 44 yrs old, bagay (a good match) for P.Noy! ”
:But Kris’ tweet didn’t sit well with another Twitter user, dyonisii, who said: “only Kris can be as crass as this.”
From Inquirer
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra so impressed President Benigno Aquino III’s celebrity sister that Kris said in her Twitter account Thursday that the 44-year-old Thai leader and  the 51-year-old Mr. Aquino looked like a lovely pair.
Yingluck, who is the sister of deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was in Manila for six hours in her first official visit to the Philippines.
After the meeting between Mr. Aquino and Yingluck at the Palace, Kris tweeted: “Came from Malacañang. Lunch for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She’s tall & slim & attractive! 44 yrs old, bagay (a good match) for Pnoy! ”
Reactions from other Twitter users were not far behind.
Twitter user ggpetil said: “Hahaha. agree. thought the same way too when i saw her.”
Said another Twitter user, mrLaureano: “super like po!! Attractive nman po si president noy eh!! (President Noy is attractive himself) Yihhhiii!! Hehehe.”
Yingluck Shinawatra, husband Anusorn Amornchat (L) and son Supasek Amornchat pose for photographers during her birthday at their residence in Bangkok
Twitter user gizellegay deflated the hopes of any would-be matchmaker, saying: “I think she’s already married.”
Gizellegay’s tweet appeared to find support in an article that appeared last August in the US Forbes magazine, which said that Yingluck “has one child with her common-law husband Anusorn Amornchat.”
A story by the Reuters news agency that same month said that Yingluck preferred “to spend time with common-law husband Anusorn Amornchat, managing director of mobile handset distributor M-Link Asia Corp., and her 9-year-old son Supasek.”
The Thai government website simply says she is “married to businessman Anusorn Amornchat.”
Like Cory
As with foreign leaders paying a visit to the country, the Palace pulled all the stops to welcome the statuesque, 5-foot-7-inch (1.72-meter) Yingluck—who was a bit taller than the 5-foot-6-inch (1.68-meter) Philippine President.
After a meeting with their respective officials, Mr. Aquino hosted a luncheon for his guests, where he congratulated Yingluck for “hold(ing) a distinct honor of being the first woman prime minister of Thailand.”
“My mother, too, was the first female president of my country,” the President said, referring to his late mother, Corazon Aquino.
Thanking Mr. Aquino for his hospitality, Yingluck said:  “It is an honor and pleasure to be visiting the Philippines, a country that shares close ties with Thailand and one that has produced great talent on the global stage, including Manny Pacquiao in boxing and Lea Salonga on Broadway.”
“As a fellow Southeast Asian, we share your pride in the achievement of those famous Filipinos,” Shinawatra added.
In their talks, the two leaders thanked each other for the help each country gave the other when deadly floods struck Thailand and the Philippines, and pledged to work together in preventing similar disasters.
They also agreed to cooperate in combating drug trafficking, promoting education and expanding their economic ties.
More rice exports
Yingluck congratulated Mr. Aquino on his successful anticorruption policy and expressed Thai readiness to export more rice to the Philippines.
In a statement he read in their joint press conference, Mr. Aquino said the challenge for both countries was “to maximize our gains by strengthening trade liberalization and investment facilitation.”
He invited Thai companies to invest in his public-private partnerships (PPP) program and Yingluck said her country was “ready to provide support to Thai investors who wish to invest in the Philippines under the PPP.”
Mr. Aquino also said he discussed with Yingluck the position of the Philippines in resolving territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“I reiterated our position that a rules-based approach is the only legitimate way to address the disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Aquino said, referring to the overlapping claims over the disputed sea.
In her statement,  Yingluck said she and Mr. Aquino were satisfied with the results of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation, the program on the setting up of energy forums, and cooperation on education, narcotics prevention and fighting transnational crime.
“Thailand appreciates the Philippines’ high support for Thai investors and willingness to remove some restrictions on trade and investment,” she said. “Thailand is also ready to export more rice to the Philippines as part of our cooperation on food security.” With Inquirer Research