Mutiny over amnesty hard to believe

Mutiny over amnesty hard to believe

My first reaction was disbelief when I saw this headline, "Thaksin stares down mutiny over amnesty" on page 3 of the <i>Bangkok Post</i> newspaper on Friday.

How could it be that anyone in the Pheu Thai Party would dare to defy their master? Then I quickly read through the article to get a grasp of its content.

According to the story, some Pheu Thai MPs who are also co-leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship - namely Weng Tojirakan, Nattawut Saikuar and Jatuporn Prompan - have threatened to vote down the blanket amnesty bill. This apparently prompted fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to call them up for a serious talk on Wednesday.

The three men apparently explained that they did not oppose an amnesty for Thaksin, but rejected a blanket amnesty that would cover former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thuagsuban - the two people they hold accountable for the deaths of several red-shirt protesters shot by soldiers during the May protest in 2010.

Having digested the contents of the article, I am still doubtful that these red-shirt MPs are really against a blanket amnesty. The brouhaha generated by their reported threat to vote down the revised amnesty bill could well be just a facade to appease some red-shirt followers who lost their loved ones in the May protest, people such as Mrs Payao Akkahad, and who really loathe the idea of a blanket amnesty.

The red-shirt MPs need to convince Mrs Payao, who has been the most vocal opponent of a blanket amnesty, and her like that their hearts and souls are still with the red-shirt masses, even lthough they have become legislators in parliament under the Pheu Thai Party’s wing.

Then there is the question whether these red-shirt MPs actually dare to defy Thaksin. My answer is, there is no way that they dare to challenge their master, who has given them so many things - from seats in the parliament as Pheu Thai list MPs to wealth that they might never have imagined before.

Just like Pol Lt-Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang, the metropolitian police chief who wrote an infamous inscription on a picture of himself and Thaksin, who is pinning his promotion insignia on his shoulder. The photo, which once hung in his office, is inscribed, “I have today because brother (Thaksin) gave me".

These red-shirt MPs also owe the famous fugitive for almost everything they have today.

It is possible these “defiant” MPs will not toe the Pheu Thai Party line and vote against the blanket amnesty bill. But their votes will not change anything. The bill will sail through the second and final readings in the House unless Thaksin has second thoughts. It really depends on how the anti-government protest develops.

An interesting point. I have not yet heard of any condemnation or criticism from the majority Pheu Thai MPs, and especially not from party spokesman Prompong Thepparit, of these “defiant” red-shirt MPs. But is that at all surprising?

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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