Worachai bill gets top priority
Parliament Thursday approved the proposal to move Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema's amnesty bill to the top of the agenda in the next House session.
- Published: 19/04/2013 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Opposition Democrat Party MPs led by Abhisit Vejjajiva, stand in parliament to protest against House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont. A joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed by a vote of 356 to 19 Thursday that the committees set up early this month to scrutinise three charter amendment bills should each complete their task in 15 days and report back Friday. The Democrats wanted 60 days. APICHART JINAKUL
House MPs voted 283 to 56, with five abstentions and four no-votes to move the bill to the first item on the agenda, up from 75th.
The Worachai bill would free nearly all political offenders charged and jailed between Sept 19, 2006 and May 10, 2011.
A Pheu Thai source said parliament could consider the bill soon after the annual budget deliberation ends in the extraordinary session in June. Mr Worachai said the amnesty would bring peace back to the country.
He said all conflicts here stemmed from ideology.
Democrat MP Sathit Wongnongtoey told parliament that pushing the bill up on the House agenda would lead to more political conflicts.
"The issue will spark a new round of divisiveness in the country," he said. The hastily drafted bill is aimed at whitewashing wrongdoers, he added.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has said the public must find common ground on the amnesty issue.
Meanwhile, the Democrats Thursday also failed to get support for the 60-day timeframe to vet the three charter amendment bills.
The three bills passed the first reading on April 4.
Parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranont called a joint sitting of parliament Thursday to vote on how much time will be spent scrutinising the bills.
The Pheu Thai Party had proposed a 15-day timeframe while the Democrats wanted 60 days.
The joint House-Senate meeting voted 356 to 19, with 33 abstentions and five no-votes to approve the 15-day retroactive timeframe, which means the vetting period ends Friday.
The vetting period took effect on April 4, when the three bills passed the first reading.
The deadline sparked a furore among opposition parties in the meeting.
Democrat MP Nipon Wisityuthasat said Mr Somsak breached the charter and chamber regulations by renewing the vote on the timeframe.
He said the agenda had been dropped since the April 4 meeting, when the quorum failed.
Mr Nipon also said the vote should not have happened as the three committees vetting the bills had already been set up and run their course.
Democrat MP Chuan Leekpai said the vetting of the bills must be restarted once voting on the matter is renewed.
Chart Thai Pattana Party MP Chada Thaiset said the starting date of the vetting of the bills must be renewed.
Meanwhile, Mr Somsak said the voting was conducted because the Democrat Party requested the vote to take place.
He would have risked being impeached otherwise, he said.
He insisted the vote carried out Thursday and the April 4-19 vetting timeframe for the bill vetting were carried our properly.
About the author
- Writer: Manop Thip-Osod
- Position: Writer