HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Thaksin Wants List Of MP Drug Traffickers
Pubdate: Fri, 23 Mar 2001
Source: Star, The (Malaysia)
Copyright: 2001 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd.
Contact:  13 Jalan 13/6, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia


BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday he 
would ask for a list of politicians involved in drug trafficking from 
a senior army general who said he knew the names of several culprits.

"I will ask him for the list to keep a close eye on those suspects,'' 
Thaksin told reporters.

"So when we have enough evidence, I will order their arrest--I won't 
spare any of them, no matter who they are.''

Thaksin's remarks were in response to comments from Lt-Jen 
Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, commander of Thailand's third army, that 
several politicians and businessmen were involved in drug trafficking.

Lt-Jen Wattanachai, responsible for defending the country's northern 
border with Myanmar, told Thai radio yesterday he could not take 
legal action against the culprits because he did not have any 
authority or evidence to do so.

"I can't arrest them because we are not authorised to, even though we 
know what they are doing,'' he said.

"Narcotics trafficking is a multi-billion baht business involving 
hundreds of people and networks ... Politicians need money from them 
to buy votes.''

Thaksin said there were no officials brave enough to send him such a 
blacklist, but added he wanted to encourage them to do so.

"Nobody is above the law,'' Thaksin said.

Lt-Jen Wattanachai has been extremely critical of Myanmar following 
clashes at the border last month.

He says Myanmar's government is encouraging the activities of the 
United Wa State Army (UWSA), the source of most of the 
methamphetamine pills flooding Thailand.

Myanmar insists that it is clamping down on drugs and says the UWSA 
should not be made a scapegoat for the problem.

Lt-Jen Wattanachai's comments have often contradicted Defence 
Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who boasts good personal connections 
with Yangon's ruling generals, fuelling speculation in the Thai media 
that Lt-Jen Wattanachai could be transferred to a higher but inactive 
post later this year.

The two countries, which share a 2,400km border, have waged a war of 
words since their troops exchanged fire in February that left several 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe