Govt hesitant to support MFP's amnesty bill push

Govt hesitant to support MFP's amnesty bill push

Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai
Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai

Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai on Sunday poured cold water on the Move Forward Party's (MFP) political amnesty proposal, at least for now, saying the government would rather wait for a decision on the issue first.

MFP leader Chaithawat Tulathon is pushing his party-sponsored bill seeking an amnesty for individuals charged in politically motivated cases since the February 2006 protests, as it seeks to have the House debate the measure first introduced last year.

Mr Phumtham said the opposition party was free to gather input from stakeholders and if a beneficial resolution was reached, the government would support it. The government was keen to take action on issues which it thought could help but would steer clear of any proposal which could reignite conflicts.

"If no conclusion is reached and it can lead to a conflict, we don't want to do it. We want to avoid a new round of conflict after solving the previous one.

"We aim to push the country forward without any conflict impeding our effort," he said.

Critics of the amnesty bill see it as an attempt to grant a blanket amnesty for offenders under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law.

Mr Chaithawat last week met Suwit Thongprasert, an ex-activist monk, to garner support for the party's push.

Mr Suwit was a monk when he joined the 2013–2014 street protests staged by the then-People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) seeking to oust the Yingluck administration.

Mr Chaithawat said on Saturday the party was gathering input from all stakeholders including the red-shirt movement and would hold talks with security authorities and political parties.

When asked about Mr Suwit's views, he said the ex-activist raised questions concerning processes that would be put in place to ensure the prevention of a new cycle of conflict.

Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a list-MP of the United Thai Nation Party, on Sunday welcomed the MFP gathering public input before the bill is debated in parliament.

But he said he would not support the proposed amnesty if it was intended to help offenders of Section 112.

The bill was submitted to the House Speaker on Oct 5. Groups likely to benefit from the amnesty proposal included the People's Alliance for Democracy, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, the PDRC and students and others protesting against the military regime in the past nine years.

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