Shinawatras lend support to amnesty bill

Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema says he feels more confident of getting parliamentary backing for his version of the amnesty bill after receiving support from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin.

Mr Worachai will ask the House speaker to have lawmakers consider the bill as soon as the controversial two trillion-baht infrastructure development bill and a draft to amend the charter by sections pass their first reading during the current legislative session, which ends on April 18.

A Samut Prakan MP and red-shirt co-leader, Mr Worachai is leading a group of 42 Pheu Thai MPs to push the amnesty bill ahead. The bill has drawn opposition for its broad coverage of wrongdoers of political violence since the 2006 coup and its allegedly implicit aim to win favour for Thaksin.

However, in a phone conversation between Mr Worachai and Thaksin three days ago, the former prime minister told him to go on helping people and to "not worry about me", Mr Worachai said.

Ms Yingluck also discussed the bill with him at the same time, he said.

With support from them, Mr Worachai, who will raise the issue in the Pheu Thai Party meeting this week, believes it will be easier to talk other Pheu Thai MPs into backing the bill.

His version of the bill, drafted by red shirt lawyers, has already been put on the House agenda but he will ask the House speaker to move the bill up for quicker consideration out of "my feeling to help my [red shirt] brothers" who joined rallies against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

To ensure the smooth passage of draft legislation, House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont has taken the unusual step of setting up a party-style parliamentary whips office.

The office, which will be chaired by Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanich and comprise six senators, six Pheu Thai MPs, five Democrat MPs and a Matubhum MP, will facilitate the House meeting.

About the author

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Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
Position: Reporter