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Signing of FTA is like policy corruption, NGOs tell govt

The Nation (Bangkok) | 2 April 2007

Signing of FTA is like policy corruption, NGOs tell govt

A group of Thai non-governmental organisations led by FTA Watch yesterday launched a campaign against the Surayud government over its plan to sign a free-trade pact with Japan tomorrow.

"The government is about to commit policy corruption like the Thaksin government, which was toppled because of the same offence,’’ the groups warned in a statement read at Bangkok’s City Pillar Shrine.

The Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement will cause tremendous damage to a massive number of farmers and allow a foreign country to take over the country’s biological resources, while only a few exporters would benefit, they said.

The Surayud government lacks the legitimacy to sign the deal because it is not an elected but an interim one appointed mainly to check corruption by the previous government of Thaksin Shinawatra, they said.

They accused the government of covering up information about the trade pact.

The groups claimed the agreement would allow Japan to dump toxic waste in Thailand and allow its investors to use state health facilities, which would raise the cost of medicine and health services.

Withoon Lianchamroon of FTA Watch cited statistics showing that the quick signing of the trade pact would benefit a few Thai conglomerates that export seafood and chicken to Japan.

"If the agreement is signed later, it is only these companies and not farmers who are affected,’’ he said.

"The government also covered up that Thai farmers will be affected because rice will be withdrawn from the list. The Philippines and Indonesia have not yet signed an FTA with Japan. There are not enough grounds to hastily sign the pact,’’ he said.

FTA Watch and others opposed to the trade deal last week petitioned the Central and Supreme Administrative courts to block its signing. Both courts turned down the petition, saying it was beyond their jurisdiction to issue an emergency order blocking the pact.

The groups worshiped at City Pillar Shrine and sought blessings from the guardian angel Phra Siam Devadhiraj to protect the country and Thai people from any misfortune that might follow from the signing of the trade agreement.

 source: The Nation