Not fit to lead

The opposition accused Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of lacking leadership quality as a non-confidence debate headed into a late-night session, and said he could damage the country.

Speaker Chai Chidchob said he will try to make conclude the censure debate against the prime minister and seven cabinet ministers before midnight today, so that a no-confidence vote can take place on Thursday.

But he left open the possibility that government and opposition whips could agree to extend the debate even further.

Malinee Sukvechavorakij, a party-list MP of the Democrats, said that the prime minister of Thailand should be mentally fit. A medical doctor, she recommended Mr Samak should take vacation and seek treatment.

She expanded her criticism, claiming that Mr Samak's refusal to answer reporters' questions by simply staring angrily at them shows a lack of fitness. She also said he refused to answer her party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva when he greeted the premier.

Mr Samak answered her speech by saying he was both mentally and physically strong, had never done anything that damaged the country - and that he surely had the right to stare at reporters.

In seven hours of debate on Wednesday, the opposition attack consisted mostly of sniping at Mr Samak and other ministers.

On Tuesday, opposition leaders focussed on the issue of the Preah Vihear temple controversy. The government ordered security stepped up at the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, although no incidents were reported.

On the street, rumours spread that police intended to break up the rally by People's Alliance for Democracy protesters at Government House, but police denied the reports