Yingluck ignored Prayut's concerns about rice-pledging scheme

Yingluck ignored Prayut's concerns about rice-pledging scheme
PM reveals he raised problems caused by ricepledging scheme long before the coup

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday said he had voiced his concerns to his deposed predecessor Yingluck Shinawatra about the mounting problems from her government's controversial rice-pledging scheme but she had insisted that she would be responsible for the consequences.

Prayut said he had personally raised the issue with Yingluck long before the May 22 coup, when he was serving as the Army commander-in-chief.

"I asked her what she would do in response to the problems that were affecting people. She said that she would deal with the issue herself because her administration was in charge. She said she had measures to solve the problems and explain them to the public," Prayut told reporters yesterday.

"She said it would be fine, as she intended to do her duty to the best of her ability. She said that she had all the evidence needed to fight any legal case stemming from the project. And I said it's up to her," he said.

Prayut, who led the coup following months of political violence, noted that at the time there had been increasing criticism of the rice-pledging scheme.

Meanwhile, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has sent a written request to the Finance Ministry to consider filing a civil case against Yingluck, her former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and other officials for compensation in connection with the claimed government-to-government deal to sell rice to China.

NACC president Panthep Klanarongran said yesterday that he had sent the request now that the anti-graft agency had already indicted those allegedly involved in the wrongdoing.

Panthep said the NACC had not suggested any figure for the damages, as the Finance Ministry should already have details of the compensation to be sought.

In late January, the NACC had filed corruption charges against Boonsong and former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol with the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders in connection with the fake G2G rice deal.

Compensation sought

The two had claimed that Yingluck's government had won a deal to sell rice bought from farmers under the rice-pledging scheme to the Chinese government. But the NACC found that the companies commissioned to undertake the G2G deal actually sold the rice locally, instead of exporting it.

Panthep said the NACC would also suggest that the Finance Ministry seek compensation from Yingluck in a separate case regarding her government's rice-pledging scheme.

He said the NACC commissioners would discuss the matter next Tuesday and a written request would be sent to the Finance Ministry later that day.

Yingluck's lawyer Norawich Lalaeng yesterday said all parties involved agreed that the former prime minister did not have to be present in the Supreme Court next Thursday when public prosecutors file a corruption case against her in connection with the rice-subsidy scheme.

He also told The Nation that Yingluck's legal team had not received any response from the Office of the Attorney-General about their request to review the case.

Yingluck, who is living in her home city of Chiang Mai, is expected to return to Bangkok in a day or two, according to a source close to her.

Yesterday she went with her son Supasek Amornchat and her sister Yaowapa Wongsawat to a department store in Chiang Mai, accompanied by bodyguards in two vehicles.

The ex-PM was greeted by many admirers, who wanted to have photos taken with them. Yingluck, however, declined to talk to reporters who were following her entourage.

A Government House source said authorities needed to provide increased security to Yingluck by having security officials follow her because she was considered a "possibly vulnerable target".

"She is among the first persons the government and the National Council for Peace and Order need to provide special care to," the source said yesterday. "If something happens to her, there will be impacts on the government and the NCPO."

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