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Samak Sundaravej

(Politician) THAILAND
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Samak Sundaravej defends cooking show in court    
Just when Thailand's beleaguered prime minister thought things could not get any worse, he found himself in court on Monday defending his popular cooking show.

Samak Sundaravej, the irascible rightwinger and passionate foodie, spent an hour in the witness box dismissing accusations that his extra-curricular activities violate the constitution.

The constitutional court is due to make its ruling tomorrow, and if it finds Samak guilty the 73-year-old who took office at the head of a six-party coalition seven months ago could be forced to resign.

Samak has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok where clashes between government supporters and opponents left one man dead and dozens injured.

More than 5,000 anti-government demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy have been camped in the grounds of Samak's offices for nearly two weeks, accusing him of corruption and demanding he quit.

The protesters have turned the elegant grounds of the heart of the Thai government into a scene that resembles a carnival, with a constant diet of music and political speeches. Samak and his ministers have been barred from entering their offices.

The cooking show, Tasting, Grumbling, a mix of tips on traditional Thai cooking and rants on subjects of his choosing, represents the most immediate threat to his power.

Samak had hosted the show for several years before he became prime minister, though it went off the air after the government appointed by the leaders of the 2006 coup closed down the state broadcaster.

On taking office Samak hosted several of the shows after the channel was resurrected, finally stepping down two months into the job.

Senators accused Samak of breaching the constitution by working for a private company while he is prime minister and filed a petition.
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Samak 's Country : THAILAND
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