Samak agrees to face grilling by senators
By The Nation

Embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej agreed Saturday to attend a debate on national problems to be held by the Senate on Monday, Deputy Senate Speaker Nikhom Waiyaratphanit said.

Nikhom said he asked the Senate secretary-general to contact Samak Friday evening urging him to reconsider his earlier stand that he and his government would not attend a general debate on national problems.

Nikhom said Samak replied through Parliament President that he would attend the debate Monday to answer senators' questions on national problems.

A group of 61 senators invoked Article 161 of the Constitution to file a motion seeking to open a debate to question the government on political and economic crises.

Earlier, the prime minister replied that the government would be busy with making preparations for the national budget bill debate and would have no time to attend the senatorial debate.

Nikhom said after Samak agreed to attend the debate, he had the Senate Secretariat send SMS to all senators, asking them to attend the debate in full force.

"The prime minister will be accompanied by a deputy prime minister and some ministers to attend the debate," Nikhom said.

"This is a very good gesture from the government and we want to see this kind of gesture from the government much earlier."

The deputy Senate speaker said he hoped that Samak's agreement to attend the debate should reduce political tension.

Nikhom said he hoped to see the People's Alliance for Democracy to change its stand now that the debate on the national problems would be held.