Yingluck can't duck responsibility for protest fatalities

Yingluck can't duck responsibility for protest fatalities

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is infamous for skipping responsibility and for remaining aloof from state affairs that she is supposed to be in charge of.

Hence, it is not surprising that she rarely showed up at parliament to attend meetings.

And when she actually attended a parliamentary meeting, she rarely took to the floor to speak as the Pheu Thai MPs would do the talking in her defence, or on her behalf.

Quite often reporters who asked the prime minister some tough questions were simply told "I don't know!" because she really didn't know at all about the matters being asked.

When the opposition and protesters demanded the prime minister be held accountable for the blanket amnesty bill, she claimed she had nothing to do with it because it was a matter for parliament, despite the fact that almost all Pheu Thai MPs, excluding herself, voted in support of the bill. And during the recent censure debate in parliament when she was queried by Democrat MPs about alleged massive corruption in the government's packed rice scheme, she didn't answer the questions herself but let Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan defend her record.

This was despite the fact that she herself was targeted for the censure debate along with Interior Minister Charupong Ruangsuwan.

But this time around, the prime minister cannot avoid responsibility for the deaths and injuries of Ramkhamhaeng University students allegedly at the hands of the red shirts that the Pheu Thai Party brought into Bangkok to protect her government.

Pheu Thai and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, or the red-shirt movement, are like a two-headed snake.

The rally by red-shirt followers at Rajamangala stadium in Hua Mark, which was called off yesterday morning, had the full rubber-stamp of the government because the use of the stadium for the rally required approval from someone in the government.

Also, ministers such as Education Minister Chaturong Chaisaeng and Interior Minister Charupong were at the stadium addressing the red-shirt crowd.

Video clips on social media showed a highway police car escorting buses carrying red-shirt followers on their way to Bangkok.

Government supporters might ask what's wrong if ministers address the red-shirt crowd, as Democrat MPs led anti-government protesters at Ratchadamenoen Avenue and elsewhere, such as the Finance Ministry and the government complex at Chaeng Wattana.

No, there is nothing wrong with that. The only thing wrong about the Pheu Thai ministers' involvement with the red-shirt followers is that some of the red shirts are thugs and prone to violence.

And now some of them are believed to be responsible for the unprovoked gun attacks on Ramkhamhaeng University students on Saturday night which left at least two dead and dozens injured.

Can Prime Minister Yingluck, her ministers, the Pheu Thai Party and the UDD claim they are not responsible for the deaths and injuries of the students?

Can they claim the attacks were perpetrated by "third hand" elements?

No, all of them should have anticipated the violence perpetrated by some red-shirt thugs when they decided to bus them into Bangkok to confront the anti-government protesters.

There have been no words of regret from the prime minister or any Pheu Thai MPs or the UDD leadership about the deaths and injuries of innocent students.

As always, they have no sense of guilt or any sense of shame at all. It is pointless and meaningless for the prime minister to keep pleading the reconciliation mantra and peace talks when she herself never feels repentant for the political crisis and its consequences.

It had its origins in the actions of her own party MPs, starting with the blanket amnesty bill that unleashed a public uproar, and leading to the people's revolt against the government and the Thaksin regime.

Aside from the deaths and injuries of the Ramkhamhaeng students, the police have resorted to the use of tear gas and water jets against protesters, who are armed only with whistles, in clashes outside the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha came out to plead with the police to stop the use of tear gas.

With the deaths and injuries of the students, allegedly at the hands of red-shirt thugs and with implicit support from the government, both the prime minister and her government have lost any legitimacy to continue in office.

They must go and go fast or the country will slide further into anarchy.

Veera Prateepchaikul is former editor, Bangkok Post.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

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

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