Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insists that his government will go ahead with a civil compensation claim against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to recover losses from her government's rice-pledging scheme.
However, Yingluck has written open letters to Prayut and Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong asking for fairness in the Bt500-billion (S$20 billion) compensation case, which she insisted was unlawful because administrative laws do not cover members of Parliament and the Cabinet.
In her letters she also urged Prayut to review the civil compensation claim filed with the Administrative Court against her, to which the PM responded yesterday by saying: "We can't just skip laws."
Yingluck is facing a civil compensation claim under the Act on Liability for Wrongful Act of Officials BE 2539.
Prayut has also said he would enforce his absolute power under Article 44 in this case, as it will only make matters more complicated.
"This is an administrative matter. If [Yingluck] wants, she can appeal to the Administrative Court.
"It is clearly written in the law that the PM and ministers are covered," Prayut said, responding to Yingluck's argument that administrative measures can only apply to the prime minister's subordinates.
Meanwhile, former PM and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said Yingluck's open letter to Prayut could be considered a tactical move to counter legal action being taken against her.
In addition to the criminal offence being considered by the Supreme Court, Yingluck is facing this massive compensation claim in the Administrative Court under the Administrative Procedure Act's Section 57.
According to Abhisit, Yingluck's explanation of her position in the rice-pledging programme stated in the open letter to Prayut may also serve as a |crucial point in her legal defence |against criminal charges in the Supreme Court.
As a politician, Yingluck needs public space to clarify the issue, he said, adding that he believes the government is in its rights to exercise its authority under Section 57 of the Administrative Procedure Act to seek compensation from Yingluck. Her government's rice-pledging scheme caused huge losses because it set the price of rice much higher than world market prices, he claimed.
Government Spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the government had no choice but to proceed quickly with the claim or it could face negligence charges, as there is a statute of limitations.
Meanwhile, Yingluck's lawyer Norrawit Larlaeng yesterday handed a six-page open letter in Thai and a five-page letter in English to both Prayut and Apisak.
The letter claimed that the Act on Liability for Wrongful Act does not cover the prime minister, while Norrawit cited Article 4(1) of the Act stating that the act does not apply to members of Parliament and Cabinet. He also claimed that this act had never been used against any previous prime ministers.
The letter also asks the government to take up court proceedings after the investigation ends, instead of adopting measures based on Article 57 of the Act on Administrative Procedures, which allow the authorities to seize properties from the defendant.