There are strong rumours today that the Yingluck cabinet, without her being present, has endorsed a royal decree that would allow former prime Thakisn to benefit from an amnesty for convicts.
Amnesty decree passes cabinet
Yingluck under attack for missing meeting
Former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra
The cabinet yesterday endorsed a royal decree to seek amnesty for convicts on His Majesty the King's birthday next month in a move criticised by the opposition as being designed to benefit former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Government House sources said the decree was raised as an unscheduled item during the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was not present at the meeting and all officials were asked to leave the room when the issue was deliberated, the sources said.
Relevant documents were also removed from Government House's press release, the sources said.
If the decree is approved, convicts who are at least 60 years old and are sentenced to under three years in jail will be eligible for the amnesty.
Unlike the 2010 amnesty decree issued by the previous Democrat-led government, the approved draft does not bar convicts prosecuted for corruption from being eligible for the amnesty.
The decree does not require the convicts to partially serve a jail term before being eligible for the amnesty, either.
Thaksin, 62, was convicted in 2008 for abuse of power for helping his then wife Potjaman Na Pombejra buy state-owned land in the Ratchadaphisek area of Bangkok in 2003. He fled overseas before the verdict was issued and has remained a fugitive in self-imposed exile.
Prime Minister Yingluck who is a younger sister of Thaksin went to Sing Buri province on Monday to observe flood recovery efforts there. She stayed overnight in the province allegedly because her Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter did not have radar for night flights, according to officials.
She returned to Government House at 11am yesterday before recording a TV interview concerning her planned attendance at the Asean Summit in Bali which runs from today to Friday. She then went to Parliament at 2.20pm to attend a House meeting.
Ms Yingluck had assigned Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm to chair the cabinet meeting.
A minister who asked not to be named confirmed the cabinet discussed requests for an amnesty for 26,000 convicts on the occasion of His Majesty the King's birthday on Dec 5.
Other ministers declined to elaborate on the issue when they were contacted by phone or approached.
Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi said the meeting was a secret and he could not discuss it.
Ms Yingluck also said she did not know if the cabinet had discussed the amnesty decree, saying Mr Chalerm should be the one to speak to reporters.
Mr Chalerm refused to clarify the issue. "I won't discuss this with you. Don't ask and don't come to see me, either," he said.
A military source said yesterday the Mi-17 helicopter was actually equipped with radar and could fly at night. Ms Yingluck's delegation also could have had another helicopter for her return on Monday night, which the military was ready to provide.
The source said the prime minister's delegation seemed to intentionally extend her trip in Sing Buri because they boarded the helicopter nearly an hour later than scheduled.
Democrat Sirichoke Sopha said the criteria for the new amnesty decree were apparently designed to benefit Thaksin. He also pointed out that even without an aircraft, Ms Yingluck could have returned to Bangkok by road for yesterday's cabinet meeting because Sing Buri is only 142km away.
rumour – unofficial information that may or may not be true ข่าวลือ
amnesty – a situation in which a government agrees not to punish people who have committed a crime การนิรโทษกรรม
decree – an official decision or order made by a leader or government พระราชกฤษฎีกา
cabinet – the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy คณะรัฐมนตรี
endorsed – to officially approve รับรอง
convict – someone who is or has been in prison because they have committed a crime นักโทษ, ผู้ที่ถูกตัดสินว่ามีความผิด
criticise – to say that you disapprove of somebody/something; to say what you do not like or think is wrong about somebody/something วิจารณ์, ติเตียน,จับผิด
the opposition – the political party or parties that are not part of the government ฝ่ายค้าน
benefit – an advantage you get from a situation; a helpful or good effect, or something intended to help ผลประโยชน์
source – someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
issue – a subject that people discuss or argue about ประเด็น
deliberate – to consider carefully, usually before making a decision พิจารณา, ตรึกตรอง
relevant – directly connected and important to what is being discussed or considered ที่เกี่ยวข้อง
document – a piece of paper or a set of papers containing official information เอกสาร
remove – to take something away เอาออกจาก
press release – a public statement given to the press to publish if they wish ข้อมูลที่เตรียมทำเป็นข่าว
sentence – (of a court of law) to give a punishment ลงโทษ
eligible – allowed by rules or laws to do something or to receive something มีสิทธิ
approve – to give official permission อนุมัต
draft – not in a final form and likely to be changed ร่าง
bar – to officially not allow someone to do something or go somewhere ห้าม
prosecute – to official accuse someone of a crime and to try to prove them guilty in a court of law ดำเนินคดี ฟ้องร้อง ซักฟอก
partially – in part, but not completely บางส่วน
jail term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail
convict – to prove in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime พิสูจน์ว่าผิดกฎหมาย
abuse of power – the illegal use of power in a bad, dishonest or harmful way ใช้อำนาจในการกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
state – government รัฐบาล
fled (past of flee) – escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there หนีไป
verdict – a decision by a court of law คำพิพากษา
issue – to officially announce or give out ออก, ออกประกาศ, ออกคำสั่ง
fugitive – someone who has been accused of doing something illegal and is trying to avoid being caught by the police ผู้หลบหนี
self-imposed – of something that you do yourself to do rather than being forced by someone else อย่างสมัครใจ
exile – a situation in which you live in a foreign country because you feel you cannot live in your own country, usually for political reasons การลี้ภัย
observe – to watch or study someone or something with care สังเกตการณ์
recovery – the process of becoming normal and healthy again ฟื้นฟูสภาพ
allegedly – claimed to have done something, but not yet proven ที่กล่าวหา
interview – a meeting (often a public one) at which a journalist asks somebody questions in order to find out their opinions, experiences, etc. การสัมภาษณ์
summit – a meeting or series of meetings between leaders of or high-ranking representatives of two or more countries การประชุมสุดยอด
decline – to say politely that you will not accept something or do something ปฏิเสธที่จะทำ
elaborate – to add more information to or explain something that you have said อธิบายเพิ่มเติม
approach – to start to speak or write to someone when you are asking for something or making an offer เข้าหา
clarify – to make something clearer and easier to understand ชี้แจง
delegation – a group of people who represent the views of an organisation, a country, etc คณะผู้แทน, คณะบุคคลที่เป็นตัวแทนของคนกลุ่มใหญ่
provide – to give someone something that they want or need จัดหาให้, จัดเตรียมไว้ให้
intentionally – deliberately; done purposely อย่างตั้งใจ
extend – to add more time ยืดออกไป
criteria – a standard that is used for judging something or for making a decision about something บรรทัดฐาน
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