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Key Democrat Party figures have been given the green light by the party leader to join the street rallies against the government as well as the so-called “Thaksin regime”.
In an interview with the Blue Sky TV Channel Monday, Abhisit said, “So, it’s good if we can support them,” he said, referring to some Democrat leaders who took to the People’s Army stage in Lumpini Park on Sunday.
Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat had also met leaders of the anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) last week to discuss the political situation.
“Their opinions might be different from ours, but at least parties who disagree with this government are joining forces,” he said.
On Facebook, former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij said that after receiving messages from MP friends, he agreed to join the rally at Lumpini Park on Sunday.
“A reporter asked me what I thought about Democrats joining hands with PAD. I said it was good, because such discussions are good for society,” Korn’s Facebook post said. “We should speak to all parties. I have talked with redshirt people and discovered that many have similar viewpoints to ours. Thais may have different colours, but we are the same,” he said.
Apart from the party big wigs, Democrat partlist MPs Kalaya Sophonpanich and Kasit Piromya also joined the rally on Sunday.
Say other players in movement against Shinawatra dynasty ‘lack unity, clout’
Nipit says he has met with Panthep Pourpongpan, a leader and spokesman for the PAD, to discuss political strategy. He said the Democrats and the PAD had a common ground and it was now time for the two sides to join forces to fight the regime.
Joining the meeting was Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Srion, party-list MP Kasit Piromya and Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich.
According to Nipit, the Democrats and the PAD decided to resume talks as they believed current movements founded to fight “Thaksin’s regime” lacked unity and political clout.
“We have come to the conclusion that we must fight Thaksin’s regime together, but at the moment some political groups are restricted by their own rules, or by other restraints such as bail conditions and the restrictions on PAD leaders to give public speeches,” Nipit said. “Democrat MPs don’t want to resign, but if things return to a situation similar to the political crisis of 2006, they may decide to. We will therefore fight Thaksin’s regime both in Parliament and on the streets.”
In other developments, three influential private-sector organisations agreed to join the government-initiated political reform council.
Deputy Prime Minister Varathep Ratanakorn on Thursday sought a meeting with representatives of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking. The committee consists of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) and the Thai Bankers Association.
In a statement, FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol said the federation would join the reform initiative. “If political reform is properly planned, the economy will prosper as it has done in the United States and the United Kingdom. This will also improve people’s quality of life,” he said.
Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the economy could not be detached from politics and stability was important for long-term business planning. He noted that it was difficult to explain the current situation to businesspeople, investors or ambassadors and believed that dialogue was a good start to achieving reconciliation.
Thai Bankers Association secretary-general Twatchai Yongkittikul asserted that the current political impasse was of grave concern to the private sector.
There were fears that conflict would linger and affect the country’s prospects when the ASEAN Economic Community kicks off in 2015. This period should be supported, he said. Once unity was restored, it would bolster the country’s economic prospects.
A number of influential political figures have already joined the reform council. They are former prime minister Banharn Silapa-archa, patriarch and chief adviser of the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party; former deputy prime minister Suwat Liptapanlop, de facto leader of the coalition Chart Pattana Party; ex-PM Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who retains close ties with the ruling Pheu Thai Party; former Democrat Party leader Bhichai Rattakul; former Senate Speaker Ukrit Mongkolnavin, who chairs the government-appointed Independent National Rule of Law Commission and has aired views similar to those of the government; Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij, who has close ties with Pheu Thai politicians; Kramol Tongdhamachart, former head of the Constitutional Court that ruled in favour of Thaksin in 2001 in the asset-concealment case; former House Speaker Uthai Pimchaichon; Sontaya Kunplome, culture minister and Phalang Chon leader; opposition Bhum Jai Thai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul; 2006 coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin; and Gothom Arya, director of Mahidol University’s Research Centre for Peace Building.
Among those who have decided not to join the reform forum are social critic Prawase Wasi, who said he was far too old. The opposition Democrats will also not join the forum.
BANGKOK, July 31 – A staunch Red Shirt leader today called on pro-government activists to refrain from joining opponents’ political rally next week as the amnesty bill is debated in Parliament amid the country’s disgruntled sentiment.
Jatuporn Prompan, a key leader of the government-friendly United Front for Democracy (UDD), told a meeting of the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s strategic committee that he would meet with top UDD members nationwide at a Bangkok vocational school Saturday to brief them on the latest
situation and instruct them to stay away from political rallies to avoid confrontation.
Members of the Pheu Thai’s strategic committee urgently met this morning to discuss the latest political situation and preparations for parliamentary debates as the new regular session starts tomorrow.
The amnesty bill, highly opposed and criticised from various civil society groups, is slated for Lower House debate in its first reading next Wednesday.
“It’s the government’s duty to maintain public order while Red Shirt activists must strictly adhere to peaceful principles. The Red Shirt movement must be coherent,” Mr Jatuporn said.
He said Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban should make it clear about his role given his statement urging protesters to rally against the government.
In making such an announcement, Mr Suthep must be on the front line of the rally and must take responsibility for any untoward incident, he said.
Meanwhile, Yellow Shirt leaders, adversaries of the Red Shirt group, said they would not join any movement against the government following a Criminal Court order prohibiting them from protesting or instigating unrest in the country.
The four leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)–Chamlong Srimuang, Pipop Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and Parnthep Puapongpan–said they opposed any legislation aimed at whitewashing ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra but decided not
to get involved in any political activity for the time being.
“If the amnesty bill is debated for the second and third readings, we will reconsider our stand,” said Maj Gen Chamlong.
The Sunday rally against the amnesty bill will be organised by an activist group which calls itself the People’s Army against the Thaksin Regime. (MCOT online news)