Abhisit to speak on democracy at Oxford University today


Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is scheduled to today give a lecture on democracy at St John’s College, Oxford University, as a part of his activities during a three-day official visit to Britain.

The Oxford-graduated Thai PM, whose visit at the invitation of the British government began yesterday, will speak on “Taking on the Challenges of Democracy”, expectedly with a focus on his ideas on how to develop democracy and reform Thai politics with a minimum government intervention by allowing a neutral institution to undertake the study for further implementation toward such goal.

Earlier this week, Dr.Panitan Wattanayagorn, deputy secretary-general to the Prime Minister, disclosed that Abhisit has invited Thais living in Britain to attend his lecture so that they can possibly exchange views on politics with him.
A spokesman of the opposition Puea Thai Party meanwhile quoted a letter written by Lee Jones, a researcher in international relations at the University of Oxford, as saying that the planned speech to be given by the Thai premier is not appropriate because the present Thai coalition government did not come to office democratically but was formed by coupmakers and from unending street protests.

However, Thepthai Senpong, spokesman for Prime Minister Abhisit, countered the Puea Thai Party attack by releasing Lee Jones’ message, saying that the gentleman purporting to be an academic and writing the letter to the university was not, but was a Southeast Asian-oriented human rights activist.

The spokesman said the opposition party’s attack was solely aimed at distorting and damaging the credibility of the prime minister.

The Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday met with his British counterpart Gordon Brown on the first day of his official visit to the United Kingdom during which the discussion was focused on economic issues, including the upcoming G-20 Leaders’ Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy on April 2 when Abhisit will also be taking part on behalf of the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Both premiers also agreed that Myanmar should cooperate with the United Nations to restore democracy in the country. Other issues included illegal Rohingya migrants, lese majeste and ASEAN’s role in the G 20 Summit.

Earlier on Friday, the Thai premier along, accompanied by Thai Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij who was also his Oxford classmate, met with British investors in an effort to encourage them into expanding their businesses in Thailand.