Thai coalition government survives no-confidence motion
Thailand's coalition government on Saturday survived a no-confidence motion in parliament that delivered few solid punches against five ministers in the four-month-old cabinet, reported dpa.
The lower house voted 246 to 176 in favour of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Finance Minister Korn Chatikanaij and two other ministers.
But the vote of confidence for Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was only 237 to 184.
Kasit was heavily criticized in the two-day censure debate for his close links with the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that held six months of protests last year that culminated in the closure of Bangkok's two international airports.
Kasit, a member of the ruling Democrat Party led by Abhisit, was appointed foreign minister despite his open support for the PAD, that presented itself as a non-partisan movement.
Other PAD leaders are under investigation for the illegal closure of the airports, a move that cost the country billions of dollars in forfeited tourism and export revenues.
Abhisit easily denied old accusations that he avoided conscription in the army, and dodged an allegation that the Democrat party covered up the receipt of a 263 million baht (36 million dollars) of campaign contribution from or large Thai petrochemicals company in 2005.
Few expected the censure motion to succeed, as the young coalition government has yet to show signs of serious cracks between the partners.
The coalition has the backing of the politically powerful army Commander-in-Chief General Anupong Paojinda and other powerful figures within Thailand's political elite.
The rise of the Democrat-led government is deemed a return of Thailand's traditional multi-polar power sharing arrangement between the military, aristocrats-cum-bureaucrats and the political parties after the system was seriously challenged by populist prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin, an entrepreneur who made his personal fortune off government telecommunications concessions, was prime minister between 2001 to 2006, during which time he used populist policies to secure the vote of Thailand's rural and urban poor while monopolizing his grip of power and pursuing self-serving economic policies.
He was toppled by a coup on September 19, 2006, and is currently living in self-exile to avoid a two-year jail sentence at home on an abuse-of-power charge.