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PAD calls for mass protest

Posted by arnon_k On May - 27 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS


People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Sondhi Limthongkul returned to the rally stage yesterday to address a large gathering of yellow shirts protesting against a proposed reconciliation bill, saying his next public appearance will be his “final battle”.

The PAD announced yesterday it was calling for a massive rally of supporters on Wednesday at the Royal Plaza to march on parliament where the House of Representatives is expected to begin deliberating the proposed bill.

“It will be my last battle, win or lose,” Sondhi said to about 3,000 PAD supporters gathering at Lumpini Park last night for the PAD’s Muang Thai Rai Sapda (Thailand Weekly) special forum.
Sondhi, who led the yellow shirts in their battle against the Thaksin Shinawatra administration which led to the 2006 coup, has kept a low profile since narrowly surviving an assassination attempt on April 17, 2009.

He told yellow shirt supporters it would be his “final battle” before he steps down as a PAD leader to live a private life.

Sondhi said he is washing his hands of political activism as he does not want to be used by politicians.

The controversial bill was proposed by 2006 coup leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, leader of the Matubhum Party. It has been marked as an “urgent agenda” item for the House sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

Before Sondhi took the stage, PAD leaders announced they had unanimously agreed to lead a campaign against the reconciliation bill.

A petition seeking to have the draft bill dropped will be submitted to the government and parliament.

“The draft bill goes against the rule of law and one of PAD’s established principles. The PAD is justified in holding the rally,” PAD leader Somkiat Pongpaiboon said.

He said it was nothing but a blatant attempt to whitewash the crimes of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and help him to avoid imprisonment.

Thaksin was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in 2008 for helping his ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra buy prime state land in the Ratchadaphisek area.

The bill proposes that politicians, state officials and people involved in political rallies between Sept 15, 2005 and May 10, 2011 will be granted an amnesty.

It seeks to annul orders and legal requirements initiated by the coup-appointed Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) to pave the way for a new judicial process to look into all of the allegations and return political rights to political party executives who were not involved in the poll fraud that led to the dissolution of their parties.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang said circumstances would dictate whether the yellow shirts’ latest campaign would be protracted.

Maj Gen Chamlong said the draft legislation would ruin the country. It will set a bad precedent if it is passed into law.

“Any wrongdoers will be whitewashed if they have money and power. We have never had such a law,” he said.

The PAD leader said if the government refuses to back down, the PAD would not either.

“It is true that PAD supporters will be granted an amnesty, but it won’t do any good for our nation,” he said.

“We want the justice system to run its course.”

Ombudsman Office chair Panit Nitithanprapas has voiced concern over Section 6 of the draft reconciliation bill.

She has read the section and insisted it cannot reverse Constitution Court decisions that have already been passed to disband political parties and ban their executives from politics for five years.

The decisions are final and binding on all parties and agencies. No law can be written to cancel out Constitution Court verdicts.

Ms Panit warned House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont to check the legality of the bill carefully since some of its contents of could contravene the Constitution Court’s rulings. A mistake in this regard could result in myriad problems later.

She said Section 3 could also be problematic. It seeks to absolve individuals who broke the law when participating in political gatherings.

Libel suit against Jatuporn dropped

Posted by arnon_k On May - 17 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

The Criminal Court on Thursday dismissed a defamation case filed by Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, a core member of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy(PAD), and four other PAD members against red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan.

In the lawsuit, Maj-Gen Chamlong and the co-plaintiffs said Mr Jatuporn had defamed them during an interview with the media and by posting on a website, accusing them of using the memorandum of understanding (MoU) of 2000 on the Thai-Cambodian border dispute to arouse nationalistic sentiment as a pretext to lead an anti-government protest.

Mr Jatuporn, a Pheu Thai Party list MP, also branded them chauvinists, the plaintiffs said.

The court dismissed the case, ruling that Mr Jatuporn had only expressed a political opinion.

Karun gives up truck protest

Posted by arnon_k On May - 14 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

Locksmith helps police defuse arrest standoff
After locking himself inside his pickup truck for more than 24 hours to avoid arrest, Karun Sai-ngam, a core member of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), last night stepped out of his vehicle to face terrorism charges.

Mr Karun didn’t go easily as police tried to arrest him for his role in the PAD’s seizure of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in 2008.

He refused to leave his pickup truck even as police, who had to break through a legion of PAD supporters, loaded it onto the back of a truck in Buri Ram and took it, with him in it, to Bangkok.

The saga started at 6.30pm on Saturday when police from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) used cars to block Mr Karun’s Toyota pickup truck while he was on his way home in Prakhon Chai.

The officers showed him a court warrant for his arrest for his role in the seizure of the Bangkok airports in 2008.

Mr Karun refused to get out of his vehicle and locked himself inside.
He phoned his wife, Sukanya, who travelled to the scene to talk to police.

She asked police to allow her husband to first go home and shower as Mr Karun had just returned from his orchard in tambon Bansai in Prakhon Chai. But they denied her request.

The situation worsened when about 100 yellow-shirt PAD supporters arrived and surrounded the pickup to prevent police from arresting Mr Karun.

That prompted police from several stations in the area to send in reinforcements.

The PAD members, led by former Yasothon senator Somboon Thongburan, took turns criticising the government and Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who oversees the Royal Thai Police Office.

Four hours later, police hooked up Mr Karun’s vehicle to a tow truck, but the PAD members surrounded his vehicle to prevent police from arresting him.

Police asked Mr Karun to get out of the truck to acknowledge the charges, to no avail. They negotiated with the PAD group, asking them to pass on their request to Mr Karun, for most of Saturday night.

Around 5am yesterday, more than 200 police, both uniformed and in plainclothes, led by Pol Maj Gen Rathapong Yimyai, the Buri Ram police chief, moved to break through the PAD’s cordon to reach the vehicle. Clashes erupted, but there were no injuries.

Eventually, police loaded his pickup truck with Mr Karun still holed up inside on a six-wheel truck and transported it to the CSD headquarters in Bangkok, almost 400km from Buri Ram.

As soon as the six-wheel truck carrying the PAD leader’s vehicle arrived at the CSD headquarters, about 50 PAD supporters showed up. They offered him food and water, but Mr Karun refused and just gave them a smile.

During the entire trip, Mr Karun kept the car’s engine running so as to keep the air conditioner on.

At one point, he opened the window to say to his assembled supporters: “The truth must be proved. I want freedom.”

Mr Karun, also a former senator, said he would neither step out of his truck nor sign any documents to acknowledge the charges, which he said were unlawful.

After police realised their powers of persuasion were going nowhere, CSD investigators sought a court warrant to search Mr Karun’s vehicle and arrest him, CSD deputy commander Apichart Sirisit said. However, the court denied the request, saying it could not order a search warrant for a pickup truck.

The CSD deployed about 20 commandos to guard the vehicle and Mr Karun. Around 7.30pm yesterday, police brought a locksmith to open the door of the pickup truck and Mr Karun agreed to get out.

Pol Gen Somyos Phumphanmuang, chief of the investigation into the seizure of the airports in 2008, said police would today take Mr Karun to the Criminal Court to detain him, and would file terrorism and other charges against him with the court.

PAD ready to give Karun legal aid

Posted by arnon_k On May - 13 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

The People’s Alliance for Democracy is ready to provide legal assistance to Karun Sai-ngam who was arrested and taken to Bangkok in his car from Buri Ram province Sunday morning.

PAD spokesman Panthep Wongpuapan said Mr Karun, one of the PAD’s core members wanted under an arrest warrant dated March 17 in connection with the PAD’s seizure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008, had earlier been advised by PAD’s lawyers to surrender and seek release on bail, but he refused to follow the advice.

Mr Karun can apply for bail if he wants to. But if he opted to stay in prison, the prosecution would be required to indict him in 30 days otherwise he will be freed, Mr Panthep said.

Mr Panthep said PAD is ready to provide legal assistance to Mr Karun at his request, whatever his choice may be.

When asked if he thought the Crime Suppression Division police had overacted against Mr Karun, Mr Panthep said the police were only trying to bring him into the proper legal process.