Monday, September 15, 2008

Thai Leader Forced to Resign Over TV Show

1st\NW Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

By SETH MYDANS\New York Times

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was forced from office on Tuesday when a court ruled that he had violated the Constitution by accepting payments to appear on cooking shows while in office.

He was paid $2,350 for four shows on a program called “Tasting and Complaining,” according to testimony by the managing director of the company producing the show. Mr. Samak had been host of the show for seven years but gave it up in April, more than two months after being sworn in as prime minister.

His party said it would nominate Mr. Samak to succeed himself, an outcome that would seem to defy the spirit of the court ruling and to ensure that Thailand’s political crisis would continue.

The confrontation has hobbled the government, hit financial markets, damaged the country’s vital tourist trade and raised fears of violence or a possible military coup.

Mr. Samak made no immediate comment, but he has said he would abide by the court’s ruling.

The protesters accuse Mr. Samak of corruption and incompetence and say he is a stand-in for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup two years ago.

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