Friday, November 22, 2019
Get Adobe Flash player

Despite the mounting pressure against his sister’s embattled government, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday instructed the ruling Pheu Thai Party to cling on to power in the hope the opposition-led rally against the amnesty bill would die down soon, a Pheu Thai source said yesterday.

Thaksin, who is believed to be pulling strings behind the ruling party, disagreed with an idea for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to dissolve the House of Representatives, according to the source.

He believed the anti-amnesty protest, now centring around the Democracy Monument, would fizzle soon after “the funds run out” and the Senate rejects the government-backed amnesty bill. He wanted Pheu Thai MPs to help retain the government’s status quo, the source said.

Ruling politicians presented a number of possible solutions to Thaksin, including House dissolution and the PM’s resignation, but the ex-leader disagreed with those proposals, according to the source.

In a bid to further pressure the government, nine MPs from the opposition Democrat Party yesterday announced their plans to resign, at the protest site at the Democracy Monument.

Suthep Thaugsuban and eight other Democrat MPs would resign their seats to be able to turn their full attention to leading the protest against the government, a party source said. Among the MPs who would resign are Thavorn Senneam, Satit Wongnongtaey, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Issara Somchai, and Chumpol Jullasai.

The party source said Suthep decided during a party discussion yesterday to resign so he could lead the protest without worrying that his role would lead to legal action against the party and to its dissolution.

Initially, the party had resolved to allow Democrat MPs to resign of their own volition. However, with the party worried about the by-elections coming up in 45 days, it decided only a few could resign. Many more Democrat MPs would resign if the government remains adamant, the Democrat source said.

Stocks take a hit

The political situation negatively affected the stocks and the baht yesterday.

The baht fell to a 7-week low at 31.62 per US dollar, weakening by 0.70 from Friday’s closing. The SET index closed at 1,405.91 points.

Traffic congestion in many areas of Bangkok worsened yesterday as anti-amnesty protesters gathered at four locations in inner city areas – Silom, Asoke, Ari and Saphan Kwai – before marching to Democracy Monument, where the main protest site was located.

Many business firms cancelled events scheduled for yesterday and later this week, citing severe traffic congestion in the city and the political situation. They included Charoen Pokphand Foods, Kasikorn Bank, and Seacon Group.

The Government Housing Bank announced the closure of its two branches near Ratchadamnoen Road from yesterday until tomorrow.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce planned an urgent press conference today about its concern over possible negative impacts on the country’s economy from the ongoing political situation.

Meanwhile, the Council of University Presidents of Thailand yesterday offered to mediate in the conflict between the government and its opponents.

The council of rectors held a meeting at Chulalongkorn University and came up with a resolution to offer to mediate the conflicts between the two sides. The meeting was attended by the rectors of 26 universities. The council has 27 member universities.

Thammasat University rector Prof Somkid Lertpaitoon, who serves as the council’s president, said the current political landscape was changing very fast and could lead to violence.

Thailand senate rejects controversial amnesty bill

Posted by Nuttapon_S On November - 12 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thailand’s senate has rejected an amnesty bill that could have led to the return to the country of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Bangkok on Monday to express opposition to the bill.

The amnesty was meant for offences committed during and after Thailand’s 2006 coup, which ousted Mr Thaksin.

His sister Yingluck Shinawatra – the current prime minister – promised last week to respect the Senate’s decision.

All 141 senators present voted against the legislation, which had been approved unanimously by the lower house of parliament on 1 November.

“This house rejects this bill for consideration,” said deputy senate speaker Surachai Lengboonlertchai.

The bill, which was proposed by the governing Pheu Thai party, applied to offences committed during the political turmoil after Mr Thaksin was removed from office.

Protest ‘to continue’

Ms Yingluck’s government had said the legislation was a necessary step towards reconciliation.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher, in Bangkok, says its broad definition of politically related offences would have included those who opened fire on demonstrators in 2010, as well as Mr Thaksin himself.

He has been in self-imposed exile since his conviction on corruption charges over a property deal.

Critics of the bill, led by the opposition Democrat Party, say it is aimed at facilitating Mr Thaksin’s return without him serving a jail sentence, and that it would allow human rights abuses to go unpunished.

The former prime minister is a deeply polarising figure in Thai politics. He drew huge support from Thailand’s rural poor but strong opposition from other sectors in society.

As tens of thousands of anti-government protesters remained on the streets in parts of Bangkok on Monday night, a spokesperson for the Pheu Thai party said the governing coalition would not bring the amnesty bill back to parliament.

“We believe from tomorrow the political crisis will start to ease as there are no reasons to maintain the protest,” said Pormpong Nopparit.

But the main opposition Democrat Party has urged its supporters to observe a three-day national strike, beginning on Wednesday, in what correspondents say has turned into a campaign to bring down the government.

Thaksin will not seek return of seized assets: spokesmen

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 5 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pledged not to reverse his Bt46 billion asset seizure and will accept the decision if the amnesty bill is defeated in the Senate, his two spokesmen said on Tuesday.

Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said Thaksin was not pushing for the passage of the bill as alleged by the opposition.

Prompong said the opposition had an ulterior motive to distort the truth involving Thaksin in order to unseat the government.

Thaksin’s legal adviser Noppadon Pattama said the amnesty, if granted, was designed to bring about reconciliation among those involved in the political conflict.

Noppadon said amnesty could not be cited in undoing the asset seizure for Thaksin.

Thaksin’s opponents are alleging that the amnesty bill was designed to help the former prime minister win back his seized assets because the bill would absolve all cases initiated following the 2006 coup, including cases investigated by the Assets Examination Committee.

Red shirts feel betrayed

Posted by Rattana_S On November - 2 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Pre-dawn amnesty push turns anger against Thaksin and Pheu Thai

FOUR RED-SHIRT Pheu Thai MPs, including Weng Tojirakarn, abstained from voting for the controversial amnesty bill yesterday.

Red-shirt MP Korkaew Pikulthong, however, did vote in support of the bill. He later posted a message on his Facebook account saying he had voted as a Pheu Thai MP and not as a red-shirt co-leader.

“Out of respect for the voice of the majority, I have never opposed the opinion of the majority as a red-shirt co-leader whenever there’s a resolution, even if I may personally disagree … To red-shirt brothers and sisters who are upset with me, you can criticise or curse me as much as you like and I accept it and would like to apologise for having a different opinion on the matter. But this is my frank confession.”

A highly placed source said former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra might decide it is time to break with the so-called progressive red shirts who oppose the lese majeste law as they have become a liability in the reconciliation process with the traditional elite.

The source also said Thaksin felt the relatives of those killed in 2010 had already received Bt7.5 million each and some red-shirt co-leaders had become MPs or been appointed to other government positions.

In a special session of the House of Representatives, lawmakers voted 310:0 to pass the third reading of the bill early yesterday. Four Pheu Thai MPs – Nuttawut Saikuar, Weng Tojirakarn, Worachai Hema and Khattiya Sawasdipol – abstained from the vote.

Seven Pheu Thai MPs who are also red-shirt leaders voted in support of the amnesty bill. They are Korkaew Pikulthong, Cherdchai Tontisirin, Apiwan Wiriyachai, Wiphuthalang Phattanaphumthai, Phayap Punket, Shinawatra Haboonpad and Prasit Chaisisa.

All of them are party-list MPs, except Prasit, who is a Surin MP.

Meanwhile 29 of 33 opposition Bhum Jai Thai Party MPs voted in support of the amnesty bill. They included Chai Chidchob, Jakrawal Chaiwiratkul, and Sopon Saram. The four other MPs abstained.

In a related development, relatives of those killed in the April-May 2010 crackdown and the so-called progressive wing of the red shirts reacted with a sense of betrayal and deep anger against the party and ousted and convicted former prime minister Thaksin.

Phayaw Akkahad, mother of slain nurse Kamolkaed Akkahad, said she felt betrayed by Thaksin but vowed to fight on until those responsible are brought to justice.

“What Thaksin did today was an act of betrayal against the people. Thaksin became ungrateful to the 15 million people who voted for him,” said Phayaw, sounding noticeably upset. She said she and other relatives of those killed in 2010 would soon call a press conference, and insisted that she would not give up calling for the end to the immunity even if she had to fight alone.

A group of 20 red-shirt university students led by Panitan Prueksakasemsuk, son of lese majeste convict Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and a senior law student at Thammasat University, staged a protest in front of the Pheu Thai Party headquarters. Organising a play mocking Thaksin under the title “Stepping on Dead Bodies to Return Home”, Panitan told The Nation that his feelings towards Thaksin had changed and the development demonstrated that most politicians cannot be trusted.

The red-shirt movement, said Panitan, is now divided over the issue, but the blame must be placed squarely on Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party and not on those who oppose the blanket amnesty, he stressed.

Sombat Boonngam-anong, Red Sunday group leader, said he would try to muster 10,000 red shirts on November 10 to demonstrate against the bill. Sombat acknowledged that there was nothing opponents of the bill could do to stop the parliamentary process but added that the red-shirt movement must reform itself.

Sombat said that perhaps Thaksin knew something that the public at large did not. Some red shirts have speculated that a deal had already been struck by the elite on both sides of the political divide to ensure immunity and exoneration for all key figures.