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Yingluck to be target of censure move

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 15 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Democrats say they will focus on the PM and Thaksin in no-confidence debate late this month

The opposition’s censure debate late this month will focus on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, with likely attacks on her leadership skills, according to sources from the Democrat Party.

Opposition MPs taking to the floor during the no-confidence debate would also direct their attack at the Shinawatra family, with Yingluck’s big brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra likely to be the biggest target, the sources said.

The Democrats will file a motion of no confidence either today or on Monday, paving the way for a censure debate before November 28, according to chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanavisit, who is a senior Democrat MP.

“Opposition lawmakers are ready to censure the government,” he said.

The current parliamentary session ends on November 28.

Jurin said the censure would focus on a number of issues related to the government’s performance.

Chief coalition whip Aumnuay Khlangpha said yesterday that a censure debate might be held on November 22, 23 and 24 if the party files a censure motion this week.

The debate appears likely to be held on a weekend because Yingluck is scheduled to travel to Singapore on November 26 and 27, where she will attend the Thai-Singapore Prime Ministers’ Retreat.

Jurin said the PM had often used overseas travel as a reason to miss parliamentary events.

Government Spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said the prime minister would definitely attend the censure debate and would be ready to respond to the opposition’s allegations. However, Yingluck’s schedule for the Singapore trip would not be changed.

“The schedule was made beforehand, and it is not meant to coincide with the censure debate,” he said.

Jurin, meanwhile, voiced concern about the risk of a confrontation between the red shirts and anti-amnesty protesters. He called for the prime minister to intervene and ensure that both sides remain safe.

Former Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban announced on Wednesday night that he would step up the rally currently at Democracy Monument from tonight. But before that, anti-government protesters including school and university students are due to march on Rajdamnoen Road.

Meanwhile, the red shirts have scheduled a mass rally at Muang Thong Thani from Monday until Wednesday next week.

Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday that the authorities would keep close watch today over the intensified protests, voicing concern that a “third hand” might intervene and cause trouble.

“The protests will likely drag on until the end of this month,” the NSC chief said.

Paradorn said rally organisers might expect two events – a judicial ruling on a charter amendment bill related to the Senate or the censure debate, to spur their protests.

He added, however, that the outcome of the bill could favour the government, contrary to the organisers’ hopes.

Red-shirt chairwoman Thida Thavornseth said anti-amnesty rallies had lost momentum because of the end of the amnesty push by the government.

Thida said the Democrats wanted the protests to persist in order to manipulate public sentiment.

She pointed out that the red shirts’ rally site was in a closed compound at Muang Thong Thani to avoid a confrontation between rival protesters.

She said the red shirts suspected that the anti-amnesty move was just a pretext to try to bring down the government.

“The reds rally is not meant to sway the Constitutional Court in the upcoming judgement for the charter amendment bill but to send a signal to the opposing side,” she said.

The Constitutional Court, whose office is at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, has scheduled Wednesday to announce its ruling on a charter amendment bill related to the election and qualifications of senators.

She said the red shirts disagreed with any bid to change government via extra-constitutional means.

Anucha Romyanant, deputy spokesman of the Peacekeeping Operations Centre, said yesterday that the Metropolitan Police would ask protesters occupying the streets in the city to return the area to prepare for celebrations for His Majesty the King’s birthday early next month.

Currently, there are three stages for political rallies, at the Makkawan Bridge, Phan Fa Lilat Bridge and Democracy Monument on Rajdamnoen Avenue.

There are also rallies at 24 locations in the provinces with about 11,000 protesters all up, including a rally of pro-government red shirts in Samut Prakan.

He noted that tens of thousands of tourists flew into the country via Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday – 13 per cent over the same day last year.

Amnesty opponents to rally nationwide

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 4 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Pheu Thai to meet today to plan strategy as red-shirt group to hold ‘10,000 up’ rally at Ratchaprasong

Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is walking a tightrope as opposition against the Amnesty Bill has now gained momentum with various groups, including the Democrat Party and many red shirts groups who formerly supported her, openly launching their campaigns to tear down the explosive draft law.

The ruling Pheu Thai Party, meanwhile, will convene a meeting today to discuss on measures needed to address the tense situation.

The Democrat Party has staged its rally against what it calls the “whitewashing law” in Bangkok’s Samsen Area for days already. Now, it has encouraged the like minded to join its movement.

“We are pleased to welcome all demonstrators who are against the Amnesty Bill,” Bangkok Democrat MP Ekanat Prompan said yesterday.

The Democrat Party’s rallies against the controversial bill have now spread to various other provinces as well. A number of demonstrators, for example, yesterday attended the rallies in Phuket and Surat Thani.

Somkid Lertpaitoon, Rector of Thammasat University said law academics, lectures, students and officials in the university expressed their opposition to the amnesty bill as it was unconstitutional and against rule of law. The group of 578 academics of the university who signed a petition said they were worried about the conflict in the society. They urged parliamentarians to stop their effort to pass the bill into the law.

Chamlong Srimaung, former leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, led his protesters under People’s Army against Thaksin regime from Lumpuni Park to join the group of student and people network for Thailand reform at Uripong insection in their protest against the amnesty bill.

A red shirt leader Sombat Boon-ngarm-anong will organise the “10,000 Up” rally at the Ratchaprasong Intersection to denounce the Amnesty Bill. The bill was unfair and unjust for the red-shirt protesters who died in the crackdown since responsible persons were granted amnesty, he said.

Thida Tavornset leader of Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship said a group of some 3000 red shirt would come to Bangkok for a training at Don Muang Technical College and they have liberty to join the protest against the bill.

Police warn protest leaders to move cautiously, as they will be held responsible for what happen.

“Protest leaders must be aware that they must be ready to take responsibility for any consequence,” Police Spokesman Maj General Piya Utayo said yesterday. He is also the spokesman for the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (Capo).

He said police were now quite worried about the growing possibility that the opponents to the bill would be marching to various venues in Bangkok.

“The marches will affect Bangkok’s traffic. They also raise the possibility of confrontations with people who think differently,” Piya said.

Capo’s deputy spokesman Maj General Anucha Ramayanantana said National Police Commissioner General Adul Saengsingkaew had instructed all police units to closely monitor the rallies both in Bangkok and in provinces.

National Security Council secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabut, so far, said there was no need to invoke the Internal Security Act to control the situation at the moment. He suggested that the turnout at rally sites was not really that huge.

Democrat Party’s deputy leader Alongkorn Ponlaboot said his party would work with all people’s networks to stop the Amnesty Bill.

“With the legislation of this bill, the government is destroying the good governance and good principle in the country. If the bill is passed, corruption cases between 2004 and August 2013 will be dropped,” he said.

Alongkorn said the Amnesty Bill, if legislated, would run against the UN Convention against Corruption that Thailand had ratified.

“Thailand’s credibility will suffer badly then,” he said, “The country can’t give amnesty to the corrupt. Otherwise, the corrupt will keep doing the wrong things. They will think only by acquiring state power, their wrongdoings will be nullified”.

Alongkorn said the Democrat Party, in collaboration with allies, would hold various rallies to inform people of what the Amnesty Bill would bring.

According to him, the rally will be held in Phetchaburi today, in Trat tomorrow, and in Chon Buri on Wednesday and in Pathum Thani on Thursday.

“We will go to all provinces,” Alongkorn said.

Pheu Thai Party’s spokesman Prompong Nopparit, meanwhile, said Pheu Thai MPs would today have a meeting as they would have an assignment to explain to people why the Amnesty Bill should be passed.

“The Amnesty Bill is based on the principle of forgiving so that the country can move ahead,” he said.

Prompong also attacked the Democrat Party for orchestrating many rallies in the South.

“The tourism season for the South has just begun and relevant entrepreneurs are now worried,” he said.

Week of protests

The Amnesty Bill is now an explosive issue. What will be coming next?

Today (November 4)

9.30am Core members of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand will convene a meeting to plan its next step in regard to its opposition to the Amnesty Bill.

10am Opponents of the bill will converge with Democrat Party leaders in Samsen in Bangkok. Marches are likely.

12.30pm The Business Club for Democracy will organise a rally on the footpath in Silom Road. They plan to blow whistles.

2pm The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking will announce its stance.

2pm The Thai Chamber of Commerce will announce its stance.

3pm Thammasat University will call on the Senate, asking it to reject the Amnesty Bill.

Tomorrow (November 5)

4pm The Chula Network for Morality will hold a rally at Chulalongkorn University to express opposition to the Amnesty Bill.

Wednesday November 6

Lecturers and students from Mahidol University will join the rally at Urupong Intersection.

Thursday November 7

Alumni of Thammasat University will call on the Senate president to express their opposition against the Amnesty Bill.

5pm The Group of 40 Senators will announce their stance against the Amnesty Bill at the Democracy Monument.

Friday November 8

The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand will announce its stance.

Saturday November 10

Noon Sombat Boon-ngarm-anong will organise the “10,000 Up” rally at Ratchaprasong Intersection to denounce the Amnesty Bill.

_ People with royal descent will express their stance.

Amnesty anger set to explode

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 30 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Suthep may call for mass rallies after Somsak’s rush for 2nd reading

A MUCH-FEARED confrontation over the controversial amnesty bill being pushed by the Pheu Thai-led government appeared more likely yesterday, as Democrat Party MP Suthep Thaugsuban decided to call for rallies nationwide from tomorrow, a Democrat Party source said.

Suthep’s decision was prompted by House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont’s urgent call yesterday for a second reading of the bill tomorrow. Suthep, reportedly acting independently, will today hold a press conference to call the rallies. In Bangkok, the rally venue will initially be on Sethsiri road along Samsen Railway Station near Democrat Party’s headquarters, while provincial rallies will take place outside city halls.

The Pheu Thai Party yesterday resolved to vote for the revised version of the bill, which would grant amnesty to all – a condition opposed even by the government’s closest ally, the red-shirt movement.

The House will tomorrow begin its debate on the second reading of the amnesty bill, Somsak said yesterday. “The legislative deliberation on amnesty will adhere to prescribed procedures as sanctioned by the Constitution,” he said.

“The legislative deliberation on amnesty will adhere to prescribed procedures as sanctioned by the Constitution,” he said.

Somsak said vetting of the bill was complete, so it was unavoidable that the second and third readings would be held.

Sooner or later the debate would have had to proceed, he said, defending his scheduling of the session for this week.

Reacting to the opposition’s claim that the bill was a fiscal issue requiring prime ministerial endorsement ahead of the debate, Somsak said he was willing to convene all 35 House committees to rule on the issue.

He said opponents and proponents of amnesty had their respective views on whether the draft was designed to benefit former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

“In my view, amnesty is about restoring justice to all sides,” Somsak said.

Amnesty could not be selectively granted, he said.

A Pheu Thai Party source said the government wanted to push for the amnesty bill’s passage as soon as possible.

The speedy scheduling of the debate was meant to give as little opportunity as possible for opposition lawmakers to air dissenting opinions.

Coalition lawmakers plan to flex their majority muscle to vote for a speedy ending to the debate on each draft provision, automatically silencing the opposition.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is expected to be absent, citing a prior engagement to chair a mobile Cabinet meeting in Lop Buri.

The government will distance itself from the amnesty issue by employing the same strategy of executive-legislative separation of powers cited during the charter-change debate.

Deputy House Speaker Visut Chainarun held a meeting with legislative guards as part of the advanced preparations to ensure peace and orderly conduct during the debate.

Visut said he would try to reason with unruly lawmakers, although he would not hesitate to remove them from the House chamber.

He said he would not tolerate disorderly conduct, because the image of the Thai legislature had degenerated to that of Taiwan’s.

Chart Thai Pattana Party chief adviser Banharn Silapa-archa said he was concerned that protesters might take to the streets after the bill’s final passage.

Defending the bill, Banharn said amnesty would not apply to those found guilty of graft violations.

Protest organiser Uthai Yodmanee said protesters would remain at the Urupong intersection during the second and third readings of the bill.

The decision on whether to intensify the protests would be made only after the bill’s final passage, he said.

Red-shirt movement chairwoman Thida Thavornseth posted a Facebook message opposing blanket amnesty.

Red shirts and almost 100 per cent of academics were against blanket absolution, she said, urging the ruling Pheu Thai Party to rethink its strategy.

“When you cannot yet defeat your political enemies, you should hope to preserve the hearty support of your allies,” she said, asking whether amnesty is worth antagonising the reds over.

Thida’s husband, MP Weng Tojirakarn, said he would abstain rather than cast his vote on amnesty.

Weng said he was against the amnesty but could not side with the Democrats.

He said all red leaders like Jatuporn Promphan, Nattawut Saikua and Kokaew Pikulthong were opposed to absolving political overseers involved in the crackdown on the 2010 political mayhem.

In the another development, the opposition appears bent on using delaying tactics during the second reading of the controversial amnesty bill, chief opposition whip Jurin Laksanawisit indicated yesterday.

Jurin said Democrat MPs have submitted 163 motions to seek changes to the amnesty bill, but their proposals were rejected during the vetting.

As a result, the Democrat MPs would reserve their right to debate the motions during the second reading, Jurin said.

Jurin quickly added that the debate would not be a delaying tactic.

“The Parliament president should allow them to debate all the motions. It’s not a filibuster, but MPs have a duty to fight against the amnesty law,” he said

He also said the opposition whip believed the ruling Pheu Thai Party would flex its majority muscle to try to push for speedy passage of the bill during the second reading because the government wanted to preempt mass rallies.

Meanwhile, the rubber farmers’ protest in the South appears to be related to the anti-government protesters, National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said yesterday.

In a report about the rallies to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, he said security agencies felt the protests were related. He added that demonstrators at both rallies could come together to protest against the government’s amnesty bill as well as a possible negative ruling by the International Court of Justice on the Preah Vihear Temple dispute on November 11.

“Right now we can see an obvious plan with a specific date and time already set. If the amnesty bill gets through and the Preah Vihear verdict is negative, there will be an immediate movement by the protesters. Now that they have given us a signal, it’s imperative we keep our eye on them,” Paradorn said.

Govt to ‘clarify’ amnesty draft

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 24 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Governors, chiefs ordered to explain ‘Democratic nature’ of amnesty measure

Re highlight: Not sure what is meant by “the government had no clear achievement”. Can be cut, the other 2 paras make sense without it.THE INTERIOR MINISTRY will make full use of all the mechanisms at its disposal to clarify issues related to the amnesty bill, Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan said yesterday.

He said he had ordered provincial governors and district chiefs to explain to the people that the amnesty bill is in keeping with democratic principles.

As well, these officials must closely follow news about any anti-government movement and report it to the ministry. Third, they must try to persuade such movements to carry out their protests or other activities within their own provinces instead of mobilising to Bangkok.

The fourth point of Charupong’s order is that provincial and district officials must evaluate the situation in their areas of responsibility and report it regularly.

He denied allegations that force would be used to stop people joining mass rallies that are being mobilised by anti-government groups.

Some of these groups are set to meet this week to plan a massive rally opposing the blanket amnesty bill, which they interpret as potentially benefiting fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A House of Representatives panel vetting the government’s amnesty bill last Friday voted to rewrite a clause, as proposed by Prayuth Siripanich, committee member from the ruling Pheu Thai Party, to include as beneficiaries people facing legal action in cases stemming from post-coup investigations.

The original draft proposed by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema did not grant amnesty to people convicted in criminal cases aside from political protest and did not cover protest leaders or the people who ordered the bloody 2010 crackdown.

Charupong said the new version of the bill would comply with Article 30 of the Constitution that says all people are protected equally under the law.

Drafting a law granting amnesty selectively would therefore be illegal, he claimed.

Meanwhile, giving amnesty would bring reconciliation and allow the country to move forward, he said. Asked to comment clearly on whether the new version of the bill would allow Thaksin to get his seized assets back, Charupong said the amnesty law had nothing to do with that.

Thaksin might ask the court to order the return his assets, but that would be a separate issue.

Democrat MP and legal expert Nipit Intarasombat said the new version of the bill would be against Article 309, the provision of the 2007 Constitution that protects the coup-makers from the consequences of their actions. Therefore, he claimed, it is the legitimate duty of the people to oppose the bill.

National Anti-Corruption Commission member Vicha Mahakhun said yesterday that passage of the new version of the bill would affect the NACC’s investigation of the cases against Abhisit and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban.

He said the principle of equality should not undermine principle of the rule of law, and no part of the Three Sovereign Powers – the administrative branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary branch – should interfere in the work of another part.

Meanwhile, Uthai Yodmanee, a leader of a rally by the Students’ and People’s Network for Thailand Reform at the Urupong intersection in Bangkok, said many groups had come out to join the gathering.