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Abhisit says Tarit framed him, Suthep over 2010 riots

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 19 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Department of Special Investigation director-general Tarit Pengdith skewed the facts in order to frame suspects who are the subject of criminal indictments relating to the 2010 riots, the Democrat Party leader told a court Monday.

The Criminal Court convened an inquiry session to hear Abhisit Vejjajiva testifying as plaintiff, before deciding whether his suit against Tarit would merit judicial review.

“The state of emergency was declared in the face of havoc wreaked by armed men in black, but this fact was omitted from the prosecution statement against me,” Abhisit said.

Abhisit contends that Tarit abused his power by fabricating criminal indictments against him, as the then prime minister, and his then deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, in relation to deaths that occurred during the riots.

In his statement to the court, he said that only the National Counter Corruption Commission had a mandate to prosecute political office holders.

He voiced suspicion that the DSI and the Office of the Attorney General had conspired to frame him and Suthep in order to pressure opposition lawmakers to accept the amnesty bill.

One month before the indictments were issued, Cabinet member Chalerm Yoobamrung revealed in the House that he had inside information about the pending charges, Abhisit said.

Former Thai premier discusses murder charge, 2010 riots

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Former Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva has vowed to fight a murder charge in connection with his order to disperse protesters during the 2010 anti-government demonstrations.

But the leader of the now-opposition Democrat Party has spoken out against the current government’s proposed amnesty for all political crimes from 2006 to August of this year.

That amnesty would also absolve his predecessor and political opponent Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been living overseas since 2008to avoid a jail term on an abuse-of-power conviction.

Thaksin played a leading role from abroad in the 2010 protests, which left a total of 92 dead, mostly from among his followers.

Abhisit, 49, appeared before the attorney general’s office Thursday to hear the charges, along with his former deputy and co-accused Suthep Thaugsuban.

He spoke to dpa the evening before about his indictment, the 2010 clashes, and Thailand’s political scene.

Question: Do you accept your indictment?

Answer: I think we should all be under the law, and although I feel there have been abuses of power by the Department of Special Investigation and (in) the attorney general’s decision, I will take them to court for this. That is how we should be settling disputes about what is right and wrong.

Question: What do you think of the charges?

Answer: The strange thing is that they are taking me and Suthep to court in personal capacities on ordinary murder charges, claiming that it had nothing to do with the fact that we were officials who were tasked with keeping order.

Question: What do you think is behind this approach?

Answer: If they were to charge me with abuse of power, then the Department of Special Investigation (on whose investigation the attorney general’s decision was based) would not have the power to investigate me. The case would instead have to go to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which is an independent body under the constitution.

Question: You are charged with giving orders that led to murder. Do you deny the charge?

Answer: I maintain that throughout the period of trouble Khun (Mr) Suthep and I had made our policies clear of trying to avoid losses, and that live ammunition was used only after soldiers, police and ordinary people were attacked by people who were armed, and Suthep’s order to use live ammunition had clear rules as to under what circumstances and how this would be used.

Question: Do you regret what happened in 2010?

Answer: We all regret the losses that happened which is why we are the ones who are taking the stance that there should be no amnesty for such crimes, and whoever should be held accountable for this should go through the legal process.

Question: Wouldn’t your case set a good precedent for ending Thailand’s culture of impunity for politicians?

Answer: You are absolutely right. The country needs to prove to itself that we are going to move beyond this culture of impunity, which is why we oppose the amnesty bill. As to who should be held accountable for the events of 2010, for us I think the best people to determine that would be the courts. We can’t cut short the process. It (an amnesty) would make people think, Why is the government so keen on making sure the truth never comes out? After all the propaganda of trying to label Suthep and me as murderers, why not press on?

Question: You and Thaksin are often seen as being opposite poles in Thai politics. What does Thaksin represent to you, politically, and what do you represent?

Answer: I represent liberal democratic values, which means respect for human rights, a belief that a healthy democracy requires certain standards of governance and attitudes and culture to support a truly liberal and democratic society. I’m not sure that Thaksin represents anything politically. He is not about principles. He is about business and political interests.

Question: And yet Thaksin’s parties and policies have won every election since 2001. Why?

Answer: The political machinery that he has created has produced policies that have resonated with the people. I don’t deny that.

Question: Are liberal democratic principles enough to win an election?

Answer: You have to admit that politics in the past two decades has moved towards bread-and-butter issues rather than principles. I think we now offer clear alternative plans on how we handle rice, how we handle agriculture, and government investments. I think we can chip away at their lead.

Democrat reform coming – Alongkorn

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 7 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Reform of the Democrat Party will automatically lead to a revamp of party leadership, Democrat MP Alongkorn Ponlaboot said Monday.

“I have never striven to replace the party leader, but Democrats should not put any individual above their party,” he said.

Alongkorn refused to speculate on the leadership of Abhisit Vejjajiva, saying the issue at hand is about strengthening the party.

When the time comes, the party convention would decide on the leadership issue, he said.

Commenting on anticipated reform, he said the party would be overhauled in order to ensure victory at the next general election.

The Democrats could not afford to stay unchanged because the party did not garner a boost in public support despite government blunders in administering the country, he said.

He went on to explain that the recent push for reform had almost caused Democrat secretarygeneral Chalermchai Srion to step down due to certain opponents of change.

Reform forum ‘must be unbiased’

Posted by Rattana_S On September - 18 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Gothom comes up with a four-level structure, advises all sides to join in

THE POLITICAL reform forum should be free of any political intervention and not biased in any way towards any party, a noted peace campaigner who was invited to join the forum said yesterday.

Gothom Arya, a lecturer at Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, said that to ensure success, the process should involve dialogue, deliberation for results and decision-making based on proper consensus.

“Political reform is aimed at bringing benefits and happiness to society as a whole in the future. The work needs time to complete, possibly three years,” Gothom said.

“Reform must be free from interference by any party. It must be free from any bias towards any party.”

He also suggested that reform measures must be given a four-level structure.

The first level should comprise of a political reform council consisting of political leaders and representatives from political parties, the public and private sector, mass media as well as civil society to provide guidelines for the process.

The second level should consist of a committee set up by the council to study reform proposals that had been presented by different committees appointed by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and the Parliament’s King Prajadhipok Institute.

The third level should comprise a network of groups and panels working on political reform, while the last should consist of reform volunteers who get to hold discussions on the matter with people in the provinces.

Dr Prawase Wasi, a respected social critic, said yesterday that he supported the formation of a People Assembly [to] Reform Thailand by 45 groups from civil society. He said this new reform forum should be independent from the government’s forum as they both had the same goal – reforming politics in Thailand.

“I believe there will be no conflict between the two groups,” he said. “It’s good that the government started this [reform] thing; it has attracted interest from society. Don’t think that the government is insincere. People who disagree with the government may set up their own council. The work will be easier if different social elements come together to offer input and take action.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana called on civil-society groups to take part in the government’s forum.

“We want participation from all elements in society. But it’s impossible for the forum to allow everyone to voice their opinions. That way, we will never come to a conclusion. They should send their representatives.”

In a related development, opposition leader Abhisit yesterday turned down an invitation from ex-PM Banharn Silapa-archa, who is a government representative, to participate in the reform forum.

They met at the Democrat Party’s headquarters yesterday.

Abhisit has accused the government of not being sincere about reforming politics, alleging it is far too focused on pushing through constitutional changes and an amnesty law, which have renewed conflict.

Earlier yesterday, Abhisit said the government should focus on reform proposals that have been put forward by different panels, instead of starting anew. He called on the government to heed suggestions from different groups about reforming politics.