It's now time for healing
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It's now time for healing

Public anxiety has grown as the Move Forward Party (MFP) is pushing for an amnesty bill that seeks to pardon all groups involved in colour-coded conflicts and also offenders of the draconian Section 112 of the Criminal Code -- lese majeste law.

The past few weeks have seen the main opposition party change tactics by approaching several factions, including those in security affairs and extreme loyalists -- including a far-right group led by former monk Buddha Isara -- in its effort to win support for the bill titled: "An Amnesty For Those Charged in Politically Motivated Cases From 2006". The bill is likely to be presented to parliament later this month.

Evidently, Pheu Thai is playing a waiting game as other parties distance themselves from the bill because of the part concerning Section 112.

But all must be aware that this is one of the flagship policies that enabled the MFP to grab a poll victory with over 14 million votes in the May 14 elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said Pheu Thai wanted to steer clear of any proposal which could reignite conflicts.

The party seems to be taking precautions out of fear that some may see the party acting in the interests of ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra, a not-in-jail inmate.

At the same time, the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) has its own version of an amnesty bill, which is close to that of the MFP, except that it leaves out state authorities from the possibility of pardon thanks to a signature collection campaign.

It's believed that other parties will come up with their own versions, with all seeking to leave out Section 112 offenders. Pheu Thai is already preparing its own draft to be discussed in parliament.

Regardless of its sensitivity in society, parties should not blind themselves to the fact that many Section 112 offenders are young people seeking political and institutional reform.

The calls for reform follow two coups -- the first in 2006 led by then army chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin and again in 2014 by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha -- which have further intensified political conflicts over the past two decades.

Of course, the MFP-sponsored bill will face a major hurdle in parliament since both the Senate and Lower House have reservations about a pardon for those charged with Section 112.

But on the bright side, this is a chance for the country to set up a meaningful dialogue with a view to achieving reconciliation and unity.

The country's conflicts and divisions that began from Thaksin's time in power in the early 2000s have dragged on far too long, and it's time for all sides to look for solutions to solve them.

On the surface, the country seems peaceful, without major street protests. But look a little deeper, the roots of the conflicts remain as several unjust rules and regulations are still in place, while a number of serious problems have been swept under the carpet.

These issues remain a political time bomb that could explode at any moment.

Parliament should form a national panel, comprising neutral parties, to consider all the amnesty bills and decide to adopt the best version.

Now that the country is effectively in a post-coup era, all rival factions should be able to discuss matters openly, without fear.

All must look forward and leave past conflicts behind so that the country can move on.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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