Ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra ended her trial of the controversial rice-pledging scheme today (Aug 1) saying she was a victim of “subtle political game” and begging for the high court to hand down a judgement with justice and honesty based on facts, evidence and witness accounts.
In delivering her 29-page closing statement in trembling voices before the judges of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions this morning, Ms Yingluck said she did nothing wrong.
She said what she did was to use her experience as a normal individual who was born in the rural area and had a chance to learn and feel the plight of the poor farmers who this country used to describe them as “the spine of the nation” and call on all Thais to take care of them.
She said she has fulfilled their calls by implementing the rice-pledging scheme which she said has constituted concrete proof of success in helping the farmers.
During the implementation period, farmers had better quality of life, their kids have better chances for higher education.
“It is the pride of my life that once I had a chance to implement this policy for rice farmers,” she told the court.
In delivering the closing statement for over an hour, Ms Yingluck also accused Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for giving press interviews in a way that lead the public into believing that she was guilty in the case.
She said on July 25, Gen Prayut gave in interview to the media and said “if this scheme isn’t wrong, how could it go all the way to the justice system.” She said the remark was tantamount to a conclusion that she was guilty despite the fact that the court has not yet had a judgement.
In the closing statement, Ms Yingluck listed six main points she would like the court to consider.
The first point, she said, the investigation, charge and prosecution is unfair and unlawful as the National Anti-Corruption Commission hastily decided to file a charge against her after only 79 days of investigation.
The second point she raised was that her rice-pledging scheme was a public policy that benefited the farmers. The scheme, she noted, was based on sound economic principles and was implemented in good faith, in accordance with the Constitution and laws.
The third point, Ms Yingluck said, she had never neglected her duty and had no power to stop the scheme arbitrarily.
The fourth point, she pointed out was that the rice pledging scheme was not suspended because it benefited the farmers and did not cause damage as alleged by the plaintiff. Instead it helped to relieve the debt burden of the poor farmers.
“No government agency proposed to me and the Cabinet that the rice-pledging scheme be discontinued or ended. Therefore, how could I exercise my power as Prime Minister to suspend or end the scheme?, ” she said.
The fifth point, she insisted that she had never performed or omitted to perform her duty to cause damage to anyone. She told the court that she had heeded the NACC and the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) regarding the scheme.
“The NACC and the OAG sent warning letters against the scheme to my government. They had no legal duties and power to order the executive branch to discontinue or end the implementation of public policy announced to the Parliament. However, I have never neglected to supervise and follow up on the policy implementation as warned by the NACC and the OAG,” Ms Yingluck said.
The sixth point, Ms Yingluck said she had never neglected corruption in rice sales.
Her cabinet exercised due care with respect to rice sales and in November 2012 passed the resolution setting more stringent criteria and measures to prevent corruption in rice sales, she said.
“As Prime Minister, I have duly performed my duty within the power under the Constitution and laws. I have never neglected anything that cause damage to the country and people. I have acted in good faith and never consented to any corruption by others,” she said.
In closing her statement, the ex-premier said: “I am aware that I am a victim of subtle political game. I, therefore, wish to depend on the court, when deliberating my past actions, please kindly consider facts and surrounding circumstances prevailing when I was Prime Minister, not the assumption and present circumstances that have changed.”
Today, the court also rejected her petition again to seek a Constitutional Court’s ruling on a legal issue involving the case against her of negligence in the management of the rice pledging scheme.
In her latest petition, she said it was beyond the Supreme Court’s legal authority to reject her request and pointed out that such an act was against the new Constitution, which came into effect in early April.
The Supreme Court has earlier rejected her request that it seek a Constitutional Court interpretation under the new Constitution of a clause that could affect her case.
Ms Yingluck’s lawyers team were reportedly considering whether there is other channel to petition the Supreme Court’s rejection of her petition.
The Supreme Court then set August 25 at 9.30am as judgement date for the rice-pledging scheme case.
It was also reported that ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra had phoned her last night to give her morale support.
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