Chavalit appeals for trust, says he will not step down

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 September, 1997, 12:00am

The Prime Minister yesterday issued an emotional appeal for people to trust him, and vowed he would not resign before a crucial no-confidence vote.

General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh insisted he would not dissolve Parliament by calling a snap election before a vote on political reforms.

Such suggestions were for 'lowlifes', he said.

'Let them find the rudest of words not used by human beings anywhere else to scold me,' General Chavalit said of his enemies in a speech to provincial administrators.

'I can tolerate that . . . But I can't give them what they want - my resignation or a House dissolution. I won't destroy my country's chances. I won't make you suffer. Trust me.' He claimed he would work to hasten the passage of any follow-up laws to allow elections 'as soon as possible' after the vote on the draft constitution.

General Chavalit was speaking after a parliamentary push for a vote today on reforms aimed at ending Thailand's entrenched political corruption was fended off.

Accepting the draft would effectively thwart any possibility of an early election for about 10 months.

This has raised fears General Chavalit could act soon to prolong his grip on power.

The constitution vote will take place on September 27. But it will be preceded by a censure debate on the Prime Minister's handling of the nation's economic crisis.

The motion, signed by leaders of four opposition parties, said it was 'obvious' his administration had caused crucial damage to Thailand and its economy such as had never been seen before.

It accused him of running 'a confused administration, irresponsible in both words and deeds'. 'This reflects his inefficiency, poor vision and lack of leadership,' it said.

'He also looks after his own and his friends' interests. His negligence causes corruption.' In a speech long on emotion and short on specifics, General Chavalit said his 'heart had been hurting', adding he would soon 'make things happen the way nobody has imagined'.

He claimed he had always supported the charter, which remains unpopular with some sections of his New Aspiration Party, which heads the ruling six-group coalition.

Analysts and military chiefs fear any move to dissolve Parliament before the charter is passed could provoke riots in Bangkok.

The charter stands to pit the urban population, the Army and some MPs against the political old guard who are anxious to protect their vested interests.