Pheu Thai MPs push broad amnesty bill

A group of Pheu Thai Party MPs is pushing for a bill which could grant the widest amnesty coverage of any bill proposed to date.

  • Published: 7/03/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

People’s Alliance for Democracy spokesman Panthep Wongpuapan, left, presents Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol with the alliance’s position on an amnesty being worked out for political offenders at parliament yesterday. APICHART JINAKUL

Twenty-one ruling party MPs have backed the bill, drafted by lawyers working for the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Worachai Hema, an MP from Samut Prakan who was instrumental in its drafting, said the bill has nothing to do with Pheu Thai or the government.

It is the eighth bill drafted to date proposing an amnesty for offenders facing charges related to the political violence since the Sept 19, 2006 coup.

There are four drafts, including the Worachai one, which have not reached parliament.

The other three are the bill sponsored by the Independent Committee for Promotion of the Rule of Law chairman Ukrit Mongkolnavin; a draft executive decree proposed by red-shirt core leader Jatuporn Prompan; and a bill to amend the constitution by the Nitirat group.

Four other bills, all proposed in the name of national reconciliation, are waiting to pass their first reading.

They are the drafts proposed by Matubhum Party leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, and by Pheu Thai MPs Samat Kaewmeechai, Niyom Worapanya and Nattawut Saikua.

Mr Worachai said his group's bill, containing seven sections, aims to absolve more than 1,000 offenders in all colour-coded political conflicts since the coup.

Karom Polpornklang, a red-shirt lawyer, said the Worachai bill would also cover people who did not take part in street rallies but were prosecuted for their acts or expression of thoughts construed by law as contributing to the conflicts. That makes it broader than any amnesty bill proposed to date.

However, one thing which the four bills have in common is that the core leaders of the movements behind the street protests will not be covered.

Mr Worachai said he expected his group's bill will be passed into law in the current legislative session.

Mr Karom said more details could be incorporated into the bill during its scrutiny in parliament.

Meanwhile, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is working on its own reconciliation proposals.

Panthep Wongpuapan, the PAD spokesman, met Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol yesterday to convey the alliance's position on the amnesty issue.

Mr Charoen has been sounding out parties affected by the violence on the design of an amnesty. He says it should be the product of an inclusive process to ease social conflicts. If and when all parties can build a consensus around the issue, an amnesty bill will be drafted.

Mr Panthep said the alliance has reached several resolutions on the proposed amnesty.

Mr Charoen has invited the PAD, the red-shirt UDD, Pheu Thai and the Democrat Party for talks on the matter.

Mr Panthep said the PAD wants the process also to include Nicha Hirunburana Thuwatham, the widow of Gen Romklao Thuwatham _ an army officer killed during the 2010 unrest; families of state officials who lost their loved ones in the violence; owners of businesses damaged by the street protests and ensuing riots; and members of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

If the key principles as agreed during the sounding-out process are distorted during scrutiny of any amnesty measure proposed to parliament, the PAD will protest by holding a street rally, he said.

Mr Charoen said the military responsible for containing street protests in 2009 and 2010 will also be invited to meet other affected parties on Monday.

The Democrats, however, say they will not join the talks until the four amnesty bills waiting to clear their first reading are withdrawn first.

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Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
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