Head off this political crisis

Head off this political crisis

There seems to be nothing stopping the ruling Pheu Thai Party ramming the blanket amnesty bill through the second and final readings of the House today or tomorrow. The timing depends on how quickly House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranon moves to wrap up the debate.

As the issue at stake is of widespread public interest and will have many repercussions, the debate should be televised live.

The public should be able to witness this historic event and see how their elected representatives perform their duties, or fail to do so.

On Tuesday, the opposition Democrat Party announced it would stage a protest at Samsen railway station against the revised bill, which looks set to sail through its second and final readings without any difficulty.

Earlier the same day, Mr Somsak sent an urgent letter calling the House back for a special sitting.

Several party executives have resigned from the executive board so they can focus on the anticipated prolonged protest without putting the party at risk of possible dissolution.

On the opposite side, the Pheu Thai Party has ordered its MPs to strictly toe the party's line by voting in support of the bill.

Party secretary-general Phumtham Vejjayachai warned that any red-shirt MPs who defy the order will be dealt with accordingly.

Besides the Democrat Party, a host of civic groups such as the V for Thailand and the Green Politics group have threatened to stage rallies.

Interestingly, red-shirt followers who oppose the bill have also vowed to stage their own protest.

As the protests get heated, the opposing camps _ those who back and oppose the blanket amnesty _ could end up clashing on the streets of Bangkok.

It is a prospect that will damage the country and its economy, depending on how long the protests last and whether they turn violent.

The business community will be worried and potential foreign investors may be scared away or think twice before putting their money into politically unstable Thailand.

That would be very sad indeed for this country and its people.

We have the potential and the resources to move forward, to prosper economically and socially and to improve the livelihoods of the people at large.

Yet, blind loyalty, greed, selfishness and arrogance seem to have overtaken the sense of right and wrong that should have prevailed among the powers-that-be in the government and parliament.

For them, there is nothing that matters any more, be it the rule of law or public interest.

The only thing that matters for them are the interests of one single individual _ their political master, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The clock should be allowed to run its course. Sadly, it is being turned back to the days eight or nine years ago when the country was mired in prolonged street protests against the Thaksin regime. It shouldn't be that way.

If there is any sense of self-respect or feeling of responsibility for the good of the nation and the people left among the legislators of the House, they should attempt to save the country from plunging into yet another political crisis which we can ill- afford.

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