Backers of new amnesty seek all parties' support
The positions of all parties will be put to test as the families of political protesters solicit support for their "people's amnesty bill" in parliament, which will reconvene on Aug 1.
- Published: 20/07/2013 at 04:27 PM
- Newspaper section: news
Payao Akkahad (second from right) presents the "people's amnesty bill" on Tuesday to Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana (second from left), who accepted it on behalf of the government. (File photo by Chanat Katanyu)
The backers of the new bill will lobby not only the governing Pheu Thai Party and the opposition Democrats to obtain the backing of lawmakers. All parties are being approached for quick passage to end the plight of protesters, Payao Akkahad said on Saturday.
"We are not concentrating on Pheu Thai and the Democrats as they are the conflicting parties," she told a news programme on FM 100.5.
The bill has no colour attached, she said, as it would benefit both red- and yellow-shirt activists detained as a result of protests in the post-coup era.
The yellow-shirt rallies against the government linked to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra were capped by the closure of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in 2008.
All those involved should be given amnesty, added Mrs Payao, the main mover behind the bill.
The bill has been pushed mainly by relatives of people killed in the political clashes of April and May 2010. First introduced on July 14, it covers the period from Sept 19, 2006 (the day after the coup that ousted Thaksin) to May 9, 2011.
The amnesty will not cover those responsible for violence. The worst of the violence occurred on May 19, 2010, when red-shirt protesters led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) were dispersed by soldiers to end a month-long street rally.
The bill is the first of its kind proposed by non-politicians, as previous bills have been sponsored by lawmakers. Some of the latter have been seen as little more than attempts to ensure that Thaksin can return to Thailand without facing any legal consequences.
Mrs Payao and other supporters have complained that none of the other bills truly reflected the interests of victims' families, with some even seeking blanket amnesty for soldiers.
The Democrats and anti-government critics do not support the bills being pushed by individual members of parliament, claiming some had a hidden plot to whitewash Thaksin.
Mrs Payao is the mother of Kamolkate, a volunteer medic shot to death at Wat Pathum Wanaram on May 19, 2010.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and his party have voiced support for the people's amnesty bill but have yet to put their full backing behind it. They want more assurances that no one involved in corruption or offences against the monarchy would be able to walk free.
The other proposed amnesty bills, some of which seek to grant a blanket amnesty regardless of offences committed, also fail to address the issues of corruption or crimes against the monarchy, Mr Abhisit added.
Mrs Payao and her group last Tuesday sought backing from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra when they went to Government House, but she delegated Deputy Premier Phongthep Thepkanchana to meet them.
They plan to meet House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranon on Wednesday to seek his help in getting the bill considered.
While there has been no clear signal from the prime minister, the UDD generally opposes the new bill. It backs a bill proposed by Worachai Hema, a Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan, because it offers a broader coverage of amnesty.
Mr Worachai said on Saturday that his amnesty bill was scheduled to be debated in the House on Aug 7 and would be the only item on the agenda for that day. He expressed confidence that it would need only one day to pass.
Chief government whip Amnuay Khlangpha on Saturday remained tight-lipped about the new bill, and was sceptical about the timeframe for it to be put on the lower house's agenda.
A bill proposed by the public needs the signatures of 10,000 eligible voters. All signatures would need to be verified before such a bill could move forward, he said.
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