Thai prime minister in court over TV cooking showSeptember 8th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS
Moscow, Sep 8 (RIA Novosti) Thailand’s Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej appeared in a Bangkok court Monday after being accused of breaching constitutional law by appearing in a TV cooking show, the Bangkok Post reported.Thailand’s constitution bans the premier from working for private companies. If found guilty the 73-year-old, who also faces corruption and fraud charges, could be forced to resign after just seven months in office.
The prime minister admitted that he had been paid for his appearances on the “Tasting and Complaining” show, but said it was a freelance job.
“I consulted with legal counsel after I became prime minister, and they all agreed it was not a breach of the constitution if I was not a regular employee of a company,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.
Sakchai Khaewwaneesakul, the managing director of the company that produced the TV show, said the company paid the premier 80,000 baht ($2,300) for the four shows.
“The presenters of our shows are not our employees, but we pay them honorariums,” he said.
The complaint against the prime minister was filed by a group of opposition senators from the People’s Alliance for Democracy party.
The controversy follows nationwide anti-government protests and the introduction of martial law last week after a protester was killed. Anti-government protesters took over the grounds of the Government House Aug 26 and have refused to move despite the state of emergency.
Besides the cooking show case, Sundaravej faces at least three corruption charges, charges of electoral fraud and a defamation suit.
The court is expected to announce a decision Tuesday.