Democrats to grill PM on Four Seasons meeting - The Nation
Democrats to grill PM on Four Seasons meeting
The Nation on Sunday February 19, 2012 1:00 am Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could face close scrutiny in Parliament over her controversial Four Seasons Hotel lunch with a group of businessmen, including Settha Thaweesin, the president of Sansiri Plc.
Democrat Party deputy spokeswoman Mallika Boonmitrakul said the party legal team had submitted a request to the House Committee on Economic Development to launch an assets investigation against the Sansiri chief and records of the company's meetings with Yingluck.
The move came a day after Settha admitted he and a group of seven businessmen met the prime minister at the Four Seasons on February 8 to offer their opinion on the national situation and economic issues such as finance and interest rates.
Parliament erupted in turmoil on Thursday and was ordered closed after the Democrats tried to ask why Yingluck had not attended a House meeting but opted instead to visit the hotel. Yingluck, who was away on an official inspection of the provinces to solve flood problems, was not in Parliament to answer the question.
Mallika said the Democrats had no intention to attack or harass Yingluck on personal issues but the PM was a public figure and all her actions must be accountable. She called on Yingluck to clarify the issue and not use her womanhood to conceal her actions.
"Settha said his group met Yingluck for two hours. We want to know if it was a secret discussion on the real-estate business, which might involve a conflict of interest,'' Mallika said.
The Democrats will also wait for the results of an investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman on the same matter.
"Using office hours for business negotiations could be unethical. As a public figure, the PM must be accountable and we wonder if there was any conflict of interest involved in their meeting,'' she explained.
Bangkok Democrat MP Chanin Rungsaeng, a member of the House Committee on Economic Development, said the panel would summon Yingluck and others involved in the controversy to give statements because the issue could involve a conflict of interest and unfair economic development.
Yingluck posted a message on her Facebook page yesterday defending herself, saying it was sad that Thais insulted each other in order to gain advantage in sexuality or work, or for vested and political interests. "I would like to seek cooperation and understanding of the role of women. Thai women must be treated with dignity and honour," she said.
Deputy government spokesman Chalitrat Chantaribeksa defended the PM, saying as the country's top executive, she needed to get information from every business sector to make decisions.
"Meeting businessmen to get information is not wrong. We don't want the Opposition to cast a negative light on every issue because it will not help the country get anywhere,'' he said.