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Thai FM: 'Thailand Remains Committed to Democracy'

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya at the Asia Society.
by Stephanie Valera
21 April 2009

NEW YORK, April 21, 2009 – Despite weeks of often violent protests,
the government of Thailand remains committed to democracy and human
rights, said Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

"The most important issue is how to bring about political reform,” said
Kasit. “We would like to have an open political system, a democratic
one, a transparent one and an accountable one."

Speaking at Asia Society headquarters, Kasit said he
was "confident" Thailand would overcome the civil unrest that has
paralyzed the Southeast Asian country. He also spoke personally about
having to move between "two or three safe houses" amidst the violence.

said his government was consulting Asian leaders on a new date for the
summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which
has been cancelled twice due to the political turmoil and massive
protests. The summit includes the 10 member nations of ASEAN plus
China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

He said the summit may be held in June in Phuket but stressed the importance of first resolving the current crisis.

can not have an ASEAN summit without a political settlement," said
Kasit. "There is no point in pretending things are normal. Let’s settle
this political issue first."

As for why ASEAN matters,
Kasit said "with over 600 million people, and an urban market, [there
is] lots of economic potential."

Speaking in conversation with Asia Society’s Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl, the Foreign Minister also spoke about Thailand’s current economic policy in the face of the global financial crisis.

the Thai government’s commitment to working with foreign investors, he
explained, "we will maintain Thailand as an open market economy,
friendly to the international community."

terms of specifics, Kasit said his government would continue to protect
intellectual property rights, avoid protectionism, keep the Foreign
Business Act in place, and set up "one-stop service" in Bangkok to make
Thailand more conducive to the needs of the global business community.