Red-shirts rally to 'protect govt'

Independent red-shirt groups turned out in force on Sunday to back their elected Pheu Thai leader and plead with opposition protesters to back off from trying to overthrow the government as the amnesty bill push has also ready stopped.

  • Published: 10/11/2013 at 05:00 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Several thousand red-shirt supporters led by Red Sunday and various other splinter groups turned out at noon at Muang Thong Thani with individual banners and drama shows, mostly condemning Democrat Party core members Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban, who have led the anti-amnesty bill rally on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

The number of protesters was estimated at more than 4,000, far less than the 10,000 target but still considered a lot as more members of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) joined up before moving on to another rally venue organised later in the evening in a suburban area.

The independent red-shirt members who did not join the UDD-organised demonstration at Muang Thong Thani hung out around a McDonalds nearby to light candles to remind themselves of the casualties from the April-May 2010 crackdown.

UDD chairwoman Tida Tavornseth, Pheu Thai MP Khattiya Swasdipol, whose father was killed on May 13, 2010, and former political prisoners showed up. There were raunchy pro-government speeches and honking from a long queue of vehicles.

Red-shirt supporters gather at Muang Thong Thani on Sunday. (Post Today photo)

Worachai Hemma, the Pheu Thai MP who sponsored the original amnesty bill, said the continuing anti-government protest was quite clear in the aim to bring down the Yingluck administration. He said the "old powers" consider they will lose their clout once the Pheu Thai's move eventually succeeds to amend the charter, especially Article 111.

Full-fledged sovereign power would fall into the hands of the parliament and that worried the old power, so much so that they needed to exploit any protests now, said Mr Worachai.

Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng has suggested that the government and the red-shirts need to make clear that they are not lingering over the highly-debatable amnesty bill.

Once that bill is gone, the remaining issues would emerge clear-cut and the public would see that those who opposed the amnesty bill are largely not the group that wants to overthrow the elected government, said Mr Chaturon.

"If they want to change the government, they will seek it through constitutional means. The public then shall see that the current demonstrations aiming at unseating the ruling government are minorities," said Mr Chaturon.

Asked if the Preah Vihear verdict would be an additional issue to worsen the situation, Mr Chaturon said only academic and strong empirical evidence could explain and forge a sensible society's understanding and compliance.

Any move to bring in the Constitution Court on the controversial bill would be beyond its authority, and suggestions of this move would only be another way to create more problems.

Any verdict it brought down - if it got that far - would only intensify political tensions as there would certainly be another reason for dissatisfaction, and that would aggravate more conflicts, Mr Chaturon said.

"[In that scenario] we could only hope the court would expedite its power within the rule of law and justice," he said.

Parliamentary dissolution was not also a solution to the current problems, added Mr Chaturon.

"Even those who oppose the amnesty bill also think dissolution is not the answer. After all, future elections are tipped to usher the Pheu Thai Party back in anyway, so there's no need to rush it."

The formation of the Election Commission was also not complete in order to organise an election, Mr Chaturon said.

Red Sunday leader Sombat Boongam-anong said Abhisit vejjajiva and Yingluck Shinawatra - the past and present prime ministers - should also come forward to apologise to the people, especially the leader who presided over the fatal crackdown in 2010.

Acknowledging the vulnerability of the situation with masses of people on the streets, Mr Sombat pleaded to protesters at Ratchadamnoen not fall into the trap of the Democrats and see with their own eyes that the government has tried to diffuse the confrontation by backing off from the bill.

Now his only hope was for the senate to carefully consider the amnesty bill with the notion of helping to remedy the situation and allow ways to release the political prisoners through letting the judicial system help to render some justice, the Red Sunday leader said.

"Right now it's the time for peaceful activists and the white masks to come out and help bring rationality and understanding," he said.

About the author

Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter

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