Pheu Thai makes amnesty a matter of urgency
The ruling Pheu Thai Party on Wednesday agreed to move a political amnesty bill proposed by party MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema to the top of the agenda for consideration by the House.
- Published: 18/04/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The bill will be scheduled for its first hearing during the next parliamentary session in August.
The party will submit the proposal on Thursday during a joint sitting of the House and Senate.
The decision was made during a meeting of party MPs, the party's committee overseeing political strategy and the committee coordinating party affairs.
Key members attending the meeting included former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat; Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the party's de facto leader; and secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai.
Thaksin also talked to party MPs at the meeting via Skype, according to a party source.
Parliament resumes today after the Songkran break, with only two days left before the end of the session on Saturday.
The Worachai bill would free nearly all political offenders charged and incarcerated between Sept 19, 2006 and May 10, 2011.
The bill has been slotted in as the second-last item on the parliament's agenda and awaits its first reading vote.
Mr Phumtham said the party also decided that other versions of amnesty and reconciliation bills, such as those proposed by Pheu Thai MP for Udon Thani Kachit Chainikhom and Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, will be put on hold and presented to parliament in the future.
Mr Phumtham said the party would not shut the door on the chance of other bills being proposed.
Chief government whip Amnuay Khlangpha said if the proposal to move the bill to the top of the agenda is accepted by the joint sitting today, the first hearing of the bill will take place during the next parliamentary session in August.
He said other versions of reconciliation and amnesty bills, which are stalled before the House, will not be brought up for consideration alongside the Worachai bill.
Mr Worachai said there was no ulterior motive for making his amnesty bill an urgent matter. The move was aimed at helping innocent people who have been jailed for three years, he said.
A Pheu Thai source said leaders and supporters of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship have been pressing the government to help incarcerated red-shirt members.
Even if the first hearing of the bill does not take occur until the next session in August, at least making the bill an urgent matter is a gesture that should appease the party's supporters, the source said.
The source said other versions of amnesty bills have to be suspended because they would benefit protest leaders and Thaksin, which could meet resistance and affect the government's stability. The party therefore decided to push only the Worachai bill to avoid any public confusion.
However, the source said Mr Chalerm told the party meeting that he will table his version of the reconciliation bill to parliament for consideration during the next parliamentary session.
The bill seeks an amnesty for all those who committed political offences from Sept 19, 2006, until the bill becomes law. Under the bill, any ongoing judicial and court proceedings against offenders would be stopped and any convictions and punishments annulled, Mr Chalerm said.
About the author
- Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
- Position: Reporter