BANGKOK (TIP): Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday easily survived a noconfidence vote orchestrated by her opponents in parliament who accused her of failing to crack down on graft. Yingluck, Thailand’s first female premier, won 308 of the 467 votes, securing support even from outside her six-party coalition which commands about three-fifths of the seats in the lower house.
The former businesswoman took office in August 2011 after a decisive election victory by her Puea Thai party which has close links to her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. “Parliament has voted for Prime Minister Yingluck to continue her work,” house speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont announced after the vote, which followed three days of debate by MPs.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung, defence minister Sukumpol Suwanatat and deputy interior minister Chat Kuladilok also survived censure motions. Yingluck was accused by the main opposition Democrat Party of overseeing corruption — particularly in a controversial government rice purchase scheme — and of being the puppet of her brother. Thaksin was toppled by royalist generals in a coup in 2006.
He lives overseas to avoid a jail sentence imposed in his absence for corruption charges that he contends were politically motivated. His overthrow unleashed years of rival political street protests. Two months of mass rallies against the previous government in 2010 by “Red Shirt” Thaksin supporters sparked a deadly military crackdown that left about 90 people dead and nearly 1,900 wounded. Thaksin’s opponents staged their own antigovernment protests in Bangkok on Saturday, sparking clashes with the police.