Bullit Marquez/AP
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej checks an anchovy as he shops for items to cook for
Thai embassy staff in Guadalupe wet market at the financial district of Makati,
Philippines. (AP)

Thai PM Forced Out over Cooking Shows

September 09, 2008 03:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A Thai court has ruled that Samak Sundaravej must leave office—not because of ongoing protests by his critics but because of his love for food.

Cooking Shows Get PM Into Hot Water

Thailand’s Constitution Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej violated a law against working for private companies while prime minister by hosting two cooking TV shows.

According to the ruling he must leave office immediately, but can be re-elected by parliament into office. Samak says that the charges are politically motivated and has denied any wrongdoing.

“His premiership is over, and the term of the cabinet has also expired, although according to the constitution they must remain as an acting government until there is a new prime minister and cabinet,” said Constitution Court Judge Chat Chawakorn, according to the Bangkok Post.

Samak’s seven-month rule was marked by months of street protests by members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

Despite the ruling, the demonstrators have vowed to continue to occupy the prime minister’s compound. “We will stay here until this government is thrown out,” said PAD leader Prapan Kunmee, according to Reuters.

Samak had hosted the shows “Touring at 6 a.m.” and “Tasting and Grumbling,” which featured the prime minister cooking up traditional Thai dishes such as Tom Kha Salmon, with a side of political rants on various topics.

Background: Thai PM Considering Lifting Emergency Rule

Samak Sundaravej refused last week to negotiate with demonstrators, but proposed holding a public referendum to determine if he should stay or go.

In a special radio address broadcast last Thursday, Samak said that he would protect democracy against those who wish to bring “anarchy” to Thailand. “I am not resigning, I will not dissolve parliament. I have to stay in order to preserve democracy and to protect the monarchy,” he said.

Nonetheless, Samak said the following day that he was considering ending the emergency rule that he imposed on the country Sept. 2 in response to violent clashes between government supporters and protesters seeking to oust Samak from office. “Yes, I am thinking about that,” he said, according to Forbes.

Samak’s plan to hold a public referendum had little support from the public, according to Reuters, and was criticized as a stalling tactic. However, despite this the Thai Senate “overwhelmingly” passed the first reading of the public referendum bill after just two hours of debate on Sept. 5.

Protest leaders said that they would not abandon their three-month-old bid to get rid of Samak. The Associated Press reported that the Government House had “turned into a cross between a refugee camp and a village fairground,” with thousands of protesters enjoying amenities such as free food and massages. Samak has been working out of various other locations, due to the demonstrators.

“I am outside and can’t work properly,” Samak said during his speech Thursday, which was broadcast from a sound stage set up on the House lawn.

Key Player: Samak Sundaravej

Sundaravej grew up in an aristocratic family and graduated from Thammasat University with a degree in law. Before becoming prime minister, he served in the interior ministry, was one of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s deputy prime ministers and was governor of Bangkok for four years. His rule, which began in January 2008, has been marked by protests, a poor economy and rising inflation. He has also come under criticism for his close ties with and support of ousted former leader Shinawatra. Samak’s People Power Party (PPP) was formed from the remnants of Thaksin’s Thak Rak Thai party.

Related Topic: ‘Former Thai Prime Minister Flees Corruption Charges’


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