09 September 2008

Samak Sundaravej

The Constitutional Court announced today that Samak Sundaravej’s term as PM must end, effective immediately. The Court ruled that he violated the constitution by hosting a cookery show, ชิมไปบ่นไป (‘tasting while grumbling’), on TV earlier this year. The constitution forbids a serving prime minister from receiving private income; it also stipulates that the entire cabinet must resign following the PM’s disqualification. The disqualification of the Prime Minister and the cabinet, over something as trivial as a cookery show, follows the dissolution of TRT last year.

Samak had been under pressure to resign for over a week, following the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s continued occupation of Government House. However, he had repeatedly refused to step down, arguing that an elected PM should not give in to mob rule. The Election Commission voted unanimously to recommend the dissolution of the PPP last week. Their decision was based on the Supreme Court’s conviction of PPP deputy leader Yongyuth Tiyaphairat, following the EC’s investigation into vote-buying during the 2007 general election. Yongyuth was found guilty of vote-buying by the EC in May, though they had initially endorsed him, in a rush to approve sufficient MPs to enable the parliamentary session to begin.