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Thai officials worried about crown prince: US cable

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

LONDON, Dec 16, 2010 (AFP) – Top palace officials in Thailand expressed concerns about the prospect of the crown prince becoming king, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed.


Three influential Thai figures, including two senior advisers to revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, “had quite negative comments about Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn,” said the January 2010 memo from the US embassy in Bangkok.


Two of them, while asserting that the crown prince would become king, “implied the country would be better off if other arrangements could be made,” according to the cable, published by British daily The Guardian, which obtained the confidential document from the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.


It cited concerns about his private life and suspected links to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains hugely popular with by many rural poor but is seen by the establishment as corrupt and a threat to the monarchy.


King Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch, widely revered as a demi-god by many Thais, has been hospitalised since September 2009.


The 83-year-old has no official political role but is seen as a unifying figure in a country that has been frequently riven by political violence, particularly since the 2006 military coup which ousted Thaksin from office.


Any discussion of the royal family is an extremely sensitive topic in Thailand, where the palace has been silent over the organisation of the king’s succession.


General Prem Tinsulanonda, a former premier who is head of the privy council of advisers to the king, was “clearly no fan” of the crown prince, Bhumibol’s only son, the US cable said.


“When Ambassador (Eric John) asked where the Crown Prince was currently, in Thailand or Europe, Prem replied dismissively: ‘You know his social life, how he is’,” it added.


The memo said this was “a presumed reference to Vajiralongkorn’s preference to spend time based out of Munich with his main mistress, rather than in Thailand with his wife and son.”


The memo also quoted Siddhi Savetsila, a retired military office and privy council member, who said that succession “would be a difficult transition time for Thailand.”


He “expressed preference” for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is widely respected by Thais for her charitable work, it said.


Another influential figure, former premier Anand Panyarachun, “suggested only the King would be in a position to change succession, and acknowledged a low likelihood of that happening,” the cable added.

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Source: SGGP

City councillors worried about pollution, waste

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

HCM CITY — At a meeting of the HCM City People’s Council that began on Tuesday, deputies expressed fears that pollution, lavish use of public resources, and other factors could cause severe hardships to city residents next year.


Truong Trong Nghia, a deputy, said public investment has become “wasteful,” pointing out that the city has to pay interest on loans provided to infrastructure projects that have not become operational.


He also worried about the VND600 billion (US$35.5 million) subsidy bill for the city’s bus service this year. Despite the huge amount involved, only 5 per cent of the population used public buses, he said.


The city also wastes warehouses and other public properties. Unused warehouses and land should be seized to build schools, hospitals, and resettlement housing for people whose lands have been acquired for public projects.


Nguyen Dang Nghia said the report delivered by the People’s Committee at the opening session was “too optimistic.”


Environmental problems


Deputy Truong Trong Nghia said the 11 per cent economic growth this year is a ‘significant’ achievement but it was accompanied by environmental problems.


Many canals have been filled up and no new ones have been created to replace them, he said, adding this was one of the causes of the recent flooding.


Nguyen Chau Ky said environmental problems have reached serious levels but authorities have yet to pay attention to them or heed the council’s warnings.


Although a council team had invited Binh Chanh District authorities to attend a meeting on local environmental problems, no one turned up, he said.


Nguyen Dang Nghia said HCM City and Binh Duong Province have to spend VND370 billion ($21.8 million) to clean up the pollution in the Ba Bo Canal. But the city has dozens of polluted waterways like the Ba Bo, he added.


Nguyen An Binh said: “The figures in the report indicate ‘excellent’ living conditions in HCM City. But the reality is not so good. The recent floods show the poor infrastructure in the city.”


Duong Minh Quang said most of the 13,000 families living below the poverty line are in the five outlying districts. But investment to develop infrastructure in these districts remains inadequate. —