‘Majority’ disagree with amnesty bill
text size

‘Majority’ disagree with amnesty bill

Deputy House speaker orders investigation of online survey results for possible irregularities

Lawmakers attend a parliamentary session. (File photo)
Lawmakers attend a parliamentary session. (File photo)

The majority of people surveyed by the Secretariat of the House of Representatives disagree with a bill sponsored by civil society groups seeking amnesty in political and lese-majeste cases dating back to September 2006.

The final results of the month-long online survey showed that 64.66% rejected the bill, with 35.34% in favour.

A total of 90,503 respondents participated in the survey from May 13 until midnight on June 12, the secretariat said.

However, supporters of the bill have complained about a surge of about 26,000 “No” votes on June 11, which appeared to be part of an organised operation. Prior to that time, they said, opinions had been running close to 50:50.

Padipat Suntiphada, the deputy speaker of the House, said the results might be suspect and he wants to take a second look.

“I have ordered an inspection of the IP addresses and any irregularities that occurred on the website and have listened to the opinions of the legal drafters. I will inform everyone of the facts soon,” Mr Padipat, a former member of the Move Forward Party, wrote on his X account on Thursday.

The draft bill was proposed by Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, and was seconded by 36,723 people. It was submitted to parliament for consideration.

It aims to cover related cases from Sept 19, 2006, when Gen Sonthi Boonyaratklin staged a coup against the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, up until the present day.

Under the bill, a committee would be set up to review the cases and determine which ones would be granted instant amnesty. These would include violations under the lese-majeste law, orders of National Council for Peace and Order and the 2016 referendum law. The latter effectively banned the expression of dissenting opinions on a military-drafted constitution.

The review committee would comprise 19 members, including the parliament president, opposition leader, chief whip, representatives of all political parties and representatives of the people facing legal action since the 2006 coup.

However, the bill does not cover state authorities who used excessive force in their handling of political protests and those who broke Section 113 of the Criminal Code.

Section 113 pertains to acts of using force or threats with the intent to change the constitution, overthrow the legislature, government or judicial powers, divide the Kingdom of Thailand or seize administrative power.

Pat Hemasuk, an independent academic, called on all political parties to heed the results of the survey, noting that the majority of people do not want wrongdoers let off the hook.

He also warned the ruling Pheu Thai Party that it could lose seats in the next general election if it decided to push ahead with the amnesty bid.

Pheu Thai’s stance on the amnesty proposal is being closely watched as Thaksin Shinawatra, widely seen as the party’s de facto leader, now faces lese-majeste and computer crime charges.

Thaksin has reportedly petitioned the Office of the Attorney General for “fair treatment” and claimed that police who handled the initial complaint in 2015 were pressured by “those in power at the time” — a reference to the military regime that staged a coup in 2014.

Do you like the content of this article?