Thailand's amnesty bill at stake

23:07, September 15, 2010      

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The proposed amnesty law by a coalition party has drawn numerous objections from both the government and social division such as the "red-shirt" and "yellow- shirt" movements.

The amnesty bill proposed by the coalition Bhumjaithai Party last August would cover innocent protesters both from the "red shirt" movement and the "yellow-shirt" movement, but core leaders and those who incited violence are not on the list, said Supachai Jaisamut, Bhumjaithai Party Spokesman at a TPBS program late Tuesday night.

Echoing the spokesman, deputy party leader Boonjong Wongtrairat on Wednesday said that the bill would seek to grant amnesty only to the people who joined the demonstrations, not those who were behind the terror attacks.

The bill would cover the protest of the "yellow-shirt" movement from May to December in 2008, and the "red-shirt" protests last year and this year, the deputy leader said.

The party may gather signatures of voters to support the bill, he said. The Democrat Party and other coalition partners should review their stand if some 100,000 voters support the bill.

According to the plan, the Bhumjaithai will consult with other coalition parties before submitting the proposed bill at a parliament meeting on Thursday, Supachai said.

However, the amnesty idea has sparked rejection and skepticism from various sides.

On Wednesday, Suthep Thaugsuban, Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs also ruling Democrat Party's Secretary-General said that the idea proposed by Bhumjaithai powerbroker Newin Chidchob would only undermine the rule of law.

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) also known as the " yellow-shirt" movement also voiced its opposition despite the fact that its leaders and members are facing terrorism charges.

The PAD believes that Thai people disagree with the Bhumjaithai Party's idea to pardon political protesters, coordinator Suriyasai Katasila on Wednesday said.

The amnesty bill proposed by Bhumjaithai last August, also covered banned politicians and other criminal cases, Suriyasai said. The idea engineered by Bhumjaithai powerbroker Newin Chidchob may have a hidden agenda

The PAD leaders could defend themselves against all charges in court, he said.

Leaders and members of the PAD are now facing charges in connection with the one-week blockade of Bangkok's two main airports in late 2008, which ended after the Constitutional Court issued a verdict to dissolve then three ruling parties.

On the same day, the "red-shirt" movement, rival of the PAD also expressed its objection to the proposed bill.

The bill would not benefit him or other UDD members because they had not done anything wrong, UDD core leader Jatuporn Prompan told media at the parliament.

The move by the Bhumjaithai Party is aimed to push for the passage of legislation for amnesty all people facing criminal charges for offenses during political protests.

Those who would benefit from the bill would be those who actually ordered the killing, he said.

The differences on the bill has sparked questions about the coalition unity.

Bhumjaithai is not trying to put pressure on the Democrats even if both sides have opposing views, Boonjong, deputy Interior Minister said.

"I believe the amnesty idea will not create problems between coalition partners."

The amnesty issue would not destabilize the coalition government and it would not bring about conflict between the Democrat and Bhumjaithai as people can have different views, the Bangkok Post online quoted Suthep as saying.

"I'm not concerned if the Bhumjaithai Party works with the opposition Puea Thai Party to push for the parliament to issue an amnesty law," he said.

Asked about a criticism that the move was just a campaign for popularity ahead of a general election that may be held next year, Party Spokesman Supachai said that the party does not need to stage a campaign as it is performing its duty for the public.

Source: Xinhua


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