Posts Tagged ‘People’s Alliance for Democracy’
Readers will be interested in a brief story at The Nation that reports the sentencing of People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul to jail. As usual, it isn’t that simple, for he has been bailed on appeal.
The Rayong Provincial Court reportedly sentenced Sondhi “to two years in jail for defaming General Mongkol Ampornpisit, former chairman of the TPI Polene rehabilitation committee.” He also received a fine.
The lawsuit, dating from 2007, saw Mongkol claiming that Sondhi had defamed him in a broadcast talk show on 25 May that year. The report doesn’t note that Mongkol is a former close aide to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda and a former supreme commander of the armed forces.
The short report says that the case revolved around Sondhi’s claim that “Mongkol had abused his authority to siphon money from TPI, which later changed its name to IRPC, by paying himself a huge salary as well as giving large fees to an advisory firm.” The Rayong Court decided that Sondhi was guilty and sentenced him to two years in jail, with no suspension of the term. As noted above, Sondhi has been released on bail pending his appeal.
The first point to make is that when advocates of the lese majeste law claim that it is “like the defamation law,” they can’t be believed. Sondhi gets immediate bail. Think of all the lese majeste cases where bail is refused again and again, and where sentences are regularly for 10-20 years.
On the case itself, and Sondhi’s involvement, the story is a longish one and PPT has to admit that we haven’t followed it too much. However, it is worth noting that General Prem’s associate General Mongkol was initially appointed to TPI by the Thaksin Shinawatra government. TPI was a festering sore amongst the companies that had crashed following the beginning of the 1997 economic crisis. The Leophairatana family had refused to restructure the company as its debt mushroomed. As an incomplete Wikipedia page describes it:
When the crisis struck, it emerged that TPI owed US$3.2 billion in external debt to some four hundred creditors. In 1997, the group made exchange losses of … around 5 billion USD. All expansion plans were put on hold, and TPI entered into acrimonious negotiations with its creditors. In an attempt to retain control, Prachai [Leophairatana] put both the holding company and the cement firm, TPI Polene, into the bankruptcy court in 2000. Over the next five years, Prachai used lawsuits, political connections, public advertising, and nationalist posturing in his attempt to retain control. However, with … Thaksin Shinawatra’s term in office, …[and] a bankruptcy court ruling in 2005, the state-owned petroleum corporation PTT, became the major investor in TPI with a 30 percent stake and the family was reduced to a 15 percent minority.
Prachai also mounted media campaigns, painting himself as an injured party. General Mongkol was made head of the plan administrators charged with coming up with a debt restructuring plan for TPI. Prachai was eventually forced out and had to sell his remaining stock.
It is little wonder then, that Prachai became a solid member of the group of Sino-Thai businesspeople who opposed Thaksin and, some suggest, he became major funders to PAD. Readers might also recall that one of the cases that saw the Democrat Party get off charges that originated in the Election Commission, where Prachai and TPI Polene stood accused of an illegal transfer of funds to the Party. TPI Polene is still controlled by Prachai and his relatives (be aware that this is a large PDF, and if downloaded, read from about p. 143) and has continued to fight for it. There’s some more available on the story, indicating Prachai’s politics and his fallout with Thaksin.
Prachai has managed, despite once being Thailand’s largest debtor, kept his fortune, and is ranked 29th richest person in Thailand.
Sondhi appears to have appreciated Prachai’s support, and hence spoke for him and against General Mongkol. It should be added that the relationship between Prem and Sondhi has not been smooth, and this may be related to the Sondhi’s support of Prachai and his attack on General Mongkol. In addition, a major creditor to TPI was reportedly the Bangkok Bank, where Prem has long had connections and mutual support.
Sondhi (war monger on Preah Vihear) lands 2 years in jail…Thaksin dines in New York Thai Restaurantt
Sondhi Limthongkul(a Sino born: Lin Ming Da), founder of Manager newspaper and core member of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, has been sentenced by the Rayong Court to two years imprisonment and fined 200,000 baht for defaming Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit, a former supreme commander.
In the lawsuit filed by Gen Mongkol on Aug 21, 2007, Sondhi was accused of defaming him in comments made on his television programme “Yam Fao Paen Din” broadcast on ASTV.
The court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to two years in jail and a 200,000 baht fine.
Mr Sondhi was also ordered to publish the court verdict in three daily newspapers – Thai Rath, Daily News and Manager – for three consecutive days.
The PAD leader submitted an application for bail after hearing the court’s verdict. He said he would appeal.
A number of yellow-shirts showed up to give him support.
The Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader Sondhi Limthongkul, to 20 years in jail without parole for violating the Securities and Exchange Act, reports said.
Sondhi, a 64-year-old media mogul and a leader of the yellow shirt movement, was found guilty of verifying false documents, allowing Manager Media Group, a company in which he was one of the board members and held some shares, to seek loans amounting to 1.07 billion baht from Krung Thai Bank during 1996 and 1997.
The court found him guilty on 17 counts. On each count he was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
His 85-year jail term was halved to 42 years and six months because he confessed to the charges.
His jail term was further reduced because the law carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
After the verdict was delivered, Sondhi went to the court basement, waiting to apply for bail.
Bangkokpost—The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Wednesday issued four statements, calling on the government and the military to reject the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the demilitarisation of the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple issue.
The PAD demanded that the government and the military urgently:
– Issue an announcement that they do not accept the ICJ’s ruling,
– Keep troops in the Thai territory (disputed area) and push Cambodians out of it,
– Develop and restore international relations, particularly with member countries of the United Nations Security Council,
– Not to reapply for membership of the World Heritage Convention,
– Revoke the 2000 memorandum of understanding with Cambodia on demarcation, and
– Seek the release of Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, who are imprisoned in Cambodia for spying and illegal entry.
The ICJ on Monday ordered Thailand and Cambodia to both withdraw troops from the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area, which would be part of a provisional demilitarised zone, and annolunced provisional measures for the two countries to follow to reduce confrontation and bring about peace.