Yingluck to make closing statement to National Assembly in impeachment case

Ousted Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra (R) speaks at the first hearing of impeachment proceedings by the military-stacked National Legislative Assembly (NLA) at the parliament in Bangkok on January 9, 2015.

BANGKOK - Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's decision to take to the House floor for a closing statement in the impeachment proceedings against her over the rice-pledging scheme is making political activist Suriyasai Katasila wonder if she has some trick up her sleeve.

Suriyasai said yesterday that during the closing statement, he believed Yingluck might try to "tie a political knot" concerning her next political move in order to pressure the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), should she be impeached.

The closing statements on the rice-pledging scheme are scheduled for January 22 with voting the next day.

Suriyasai said Yingluck had avoided answering questions before the assembly, and instead had four former Pheu Thai ministers answer the questions through a YouTube video.

The result of this tactic is probably aimed at to influence NLA members undecided on whether to vote for or against her.

"What they did was disrespectful to the NLA and an insult to the public. The people were deprived the chance of learning about the scheme since Yingluck refused to honestly answer questions in the assembly," he said.

Suriyasai said Yingluck had chosen to speak only during the opening and closing statements so that she did not have to answer questions from the assembly on those two days and insteadt would be able to read from a script.

Democrat Party's Phitsanulok MP Warong Dechgritvigrom attacked the Pheu Thai camp on his personal Facebook page for trying to distort the truth surrounding the rice-pledging scheme.

Four Pheu Thai ex-ministers related to the rice-pledging scheme - Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Warathep Rattanakorn and Yanyong Puangrat - answered on YouTube 35 questions on behalf of Yingluck, claiming they were issues the NLA had raised over the rice pledging scheme.

Warong said the politicians did not answer all 35 questions and avoided points that put the Pheu Thai camp at a disadvantage.

Warong said he believed the Pheu Thai camp "made up" some questions to distort the truth and show the NLA in a bad light because certain questions reflected favouritism.

He said he checked with the NLA and found that the assembly did not pose questions such as: "Do you know the extent of the damage in the rice-pledging scheme, that the government had to throw rice from the rice-pledging scheme into the sea?"

Meanwhile, Norrawit Lalang, Yingluk's lawyer, yesterday made a post on his personal twitter account @NorrawitSocial, defending Yingluck's move not to answer the questions herself, saying the NLA directives allowed officials concerned to answer questions on her behalf.

He said the NLA should refrain from posing questions that discredited any party or that put any side at a disadvantage.

He said the NLA posed questions that allowed the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to present the truth - but their questions for Yingluck were misleading as she was asked why she did not stop the rice-pledging scheme, even though there was corruption and damage in the scheme.

Meanwhile, a survey by Master Poll showed 60 per cent of leaders from 632 communities believed the impeachment of key politicians from the previous government could be carried out with justice and transparency.

Almost 63 per cent said they were not worried that an impeachment would adversely affect the country's political atmosphere.