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Amnesty bill change slammed

Posted by Rattana_S On October - 20 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Critics and red shirts unhappy with plan to absolve all post-coup offenders

The proposed law to give a blanket amnesty to law offenders involved in the political conflict has been opposed by both the government’s critics and its red-shirt supporters, albeit for different reasons.

Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat said yesterday that MPs from the main opposition party would lead an anti-government rally once the government-sponsored amnesty bill is passed by Parliament.

Nipit said the draft approved by the Pheu Thai-dominated vetting committee on Friday would whitewash people convicted by court in many cases, including fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in the Ratchadaphisek land deal and abuse of power case that led to Bt46 billion of his assets being seized. It would also absolve fugitive former interior minister Pracha Maleenont, convicted in the fire boats and trucks graft case.

Nipit is a legal expert. He has shown up many times at the anti-government rallies, including the one by the People’s Army to Overthrow Thaksin Regime at Lumpini Park.

The House ad hoc committee vetting the amnesty bill on Friday voted to rewrite a clause to include as beneficiaries people facing legal action in cases stemming from post-coup investigations.

The 35-member vetting panel, dominated by MPs from the ruling coalition, voted to support a proposal by the panel’s deputy chairman, Prayuth Siripanich, a Maha Sarakham MP and former deputy leader of the ruling Pheu Thai Party. He proposed that Article 3 of the bill should be rewritten so that the amnesty covers people accused of wrongdoing by a group or an organisation set up after the coup in September 2006.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva told members of his Democrat Party yesterday to make the public aware of how vicious the government was in trying to pass the amnesty law. He was speaking at a seminar to enhance the potential of the party’s branches.

Abhisit called the proposal historic in its scope to offer amnesty to people who had committed crimes, including killing, shooting, burning and cheating. “Next week, I intend to work on exposing the corruption issue, to tell [Thai] society how dangerous it is and what are the impacts. The government should not say again that it will eradicate corruption because today the government has managed to issue a law to whitewash people who are corrupt,” Abhisit said.

“The Democrats will definitely oppose this and we believe a lot of people are opposing this. We have announced our intention to work both inside and outside Parliament, but remain within the law,” he said.

As per the proposal, in the Bt46 billion assets seizure case, fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra would be absolved and Thaksin could petition the court to return of money plus interest. Thais would have to pay Bt50 billion in total back to the person who cheated them, he alleged.

In February 2010, the court seized Bt46 billion of Thaksin’s assets believed to have been earned from abuses of power.

The pro-government red-shirt leader, Thida Thavornseth, said the group disagreed with the draft and opposed giving amnesty to Abhisit, the prime minister in 2010, and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban.

Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema who proposed the original bill draft, said he would defend his version.

Pheu Thai MP Udomdej Rattanasatien, an adviser to the government whip, said the vetting committee must clarify to the public that all political conflicts were the consequences of the coup in 2006 and this law was aimed at restoring justice.

Nicha Hiranburana Thuvatham, the widow of General Romklao who was killed during the political riots in 2010, condemned the draft amnesty bill as an insult to those who had lost their lives in the political turmoil.

“If the government wants to give amnesty, it must ask the relatives of the victims first. The law passing process must be transparent and acceptable to all parties involved. Knowing the truth is the priority to getting over it. The most important thing is to know the truth first before we can see if we can allow amnesty,” she said as she went to the Students’ and People’s Network for Thailand Reform’s rally at the Urupong intersection yesterday.

Rally leader Uthai Yodmanee said while the group disagreed with the draft law it would not step up the rally yet. However, the group would continue its campaign and he expected more people to join the protest.

Suriyasai Katasila, said his network – the People’s Assembly Reforming Thailand 2013 – would meet today to discuss the network’s stance and movements towards the issue.

‘People’s Army’ promises peaceful protest

Posted by Rattana_S On August - 4 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The People’s Army has called for a peaceful demonstration today at Lumpini Park while red-shirt leaders have vowed to mobilise several thousands of government supporters in a show of force against anti-government protesters.

The public park is not in the three Bangkok districts where the Cabinet last week imposed the Internal Security Act.

The anti-government People’s Army yesterday revealed the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin regime.

The group, led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap, Thaikorn Polsuwan and General Preecha Iamsupan, held a press conference announcing the names of supporters. These include former Army chief General Wimol Wongwanit, former supreme commander General Saiyud Kerdphol, former Air Force chief ACM Kan Pimanthip, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian. Prasong Soonsiri, former chief of the National Security Council, would act as adviser.

Thaikorn said the supporters included other high-ranking officials, from the police and military whose names could not be revealed because they were still in office.

He said the group would wait and see how the situation develops before deciding whether they should hold a sit-in rally. “If there is any violence, it will be either caused by the government or a third-party group,” he said.

The group dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck’s plea yesterday to achieve national reconciliation, saying the government was not sincere in bringing about reconciliation.

Meanwhile, about 30 anti-government protesters led by Captain Songklod Chuenchupol converged outside the Pheu Thai headquarters, calling on the ruling party to remove an amnesty bill from deliberation in Parliament.

He said Yingluck’s statement yesterday was just a time-buying tactic.

Red-shirt leader weng Tojirakarn announced yesterday the start of the red-shirts’ campaign against the bureaucratic polity, by ordering leaders to mobilise 20,000 people from each province across the country to converge at the Rajamangala National Stadium.

Nisit Sinthuprai, another red-shirt leader, said he expected at least 500,000 government supporters to be mobilised for a gathering at the stadium. He told the red shirts in all provinces to be ready.

In a related development, the Campaign for Popular Democracy has announced its opposition to the government’s imposition of the Internal Security Act as it violated the constitutional right to hold a protest. It also opposed an amnesty bill proposed by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema, saying it believes the law would help Thaksin Shinawatra return home without being punished. The agency urged the government to lift the security law and withdraw Worachai’s bill or Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra must take responsibility for any violence that may take place.

The group said Yingluck’s proposal for national reconciliation yesterday would be true only if the government served the people, and not Thaksin.

Also yesterday, the Thai Journalists’ Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association issued a joint statement, affirming press freedom and called on the authorities to allow media workers to enter all the rally areas safely for news coverage. This was in response to the ISA coming into effect from last Thursday to August 10.

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)

Thida to resign to pave way for Jatuporn

Posted by Rattana_S On July - 1 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thida Thavornset plans to resign as the chairwoman of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship to pave the way for Jatuporn Promphan to lead the red-shirt movement, red-shirt leaders said Monday.

Pheu Thai MP weng Tojirakarn, who is Thida’s husband, said Thida expressed her wish to resign during the assembly of the UDD over the weekend.

Weng said Thida said Jatuporn should become the new leader of the UDD because he has been left out of the Yingluck Cabinet during the last three reshuffles despite speculation that he would be given a position.

Thida told the assembly that Jatuporn is qualified to lead the red-shirt movement, weng said.

According to Weng, Jatuporn agreed to accept the post but said he would need a few months to assess the political situation, He also has a health problem that needs to be cleared up before taking up the position.

Weng said Thida would remain in the position and was scheduled to complete her term in February next year.

“She will resign before completing her term to pave the way for Jatuporn,” weng said.

Samut Prakan MP Worachai Hema, a red-shirt leader, said all the UDD members agreed that Jatuporn should be the next leader and would be able to cope with the current political situation, which has seen the red-shirt movement pushed into a corner.

Worachai said a new election for the UDD leader would be held soon.

“Since Jatuporn has lost his hopes of winning a Cabinet seat, everyone wants him to lead the people’s democratic army. From now on, the UDD will be more active and hold rallies around the country,” Worachai said.

The UDD leaders will hold a meeting at 1pm on Tuesday to discuss the UDD chairmanship. They are expected to reach a decision, which will be announced at a press conference at the Imperial World Lat Phrao on Wednesday.

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