Red shirts agree to delay bills
Core red shirt leaders have backed off from demands for immediate House deliberation of the four national reconciliation bills.
CHANGING AIM: Red shirt supporters rally at Lan Khon Muang near City Hall yesterday. The event was held by the Pheu Thai Party to clarify the government’s charter amendment bid.
The leaders announced the change in position yesterday at a rally at Lan Khon Muang plaza in front of City Hall. The red shirts have organised a series of rallies across the country over recent weeks to promote the bills.
Yesterday's rally was attended by about 500 supporters.
Korkaew Pikulthong, a core leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and a Pheu Thai Party list-MP, said he supported a delay in the deliberation of the reconciliation bills because doing so would help stave off confrontation between those in favour of the changes and those against.
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Mr Korkaew's remarks supported those of House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, who last Thursday said the bills should be withdrawn when the House of Representatives reconvenes on Aug 1, to allow all sides to discuss the issue further.
Mr Korkaew called on red shirt supporters to wait until the political climate calms down before resuming their push for the bills to go before the House.
"Can we wait? It might be this year or next year. When the political situation is calm, we will resubmit the drafts" he said. "We don't want confrontation as it would do more harm than good."
Mr Korkaew said the government should focus instead on helping the public better understand the bills.
Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Nattawut Saikuar, who is also a key red-shirt leader, said a delay in the deliberation of the bills is no longer a big issue for the UDD.
After listening to the two leaders, Somsri Charoen, 56, a red shirt supporter from Bangkok, said she agreed there was no need at the moment to push for the unity bills to be debated in parliament.
"We don't want to reconcile with the Democrat Party that killed more than 90 red shirt supporters during the May 2010 rally," Ms Somsri said. "What we want is to bring the Democrats to justice".
She blamed the party for the 91 deaths during the red shirt protests seeking to oust the Democrat-led administration.
Preecha Kaewbanphaew, 75, also from Bangkok, said he agreed with the delay because he felt the Democrats would benefit more from the bills than Pheu Thai.
Many people charged with political offences during the yellow- hirt protests of 2008 would be exonerated, he said.
Mr Preecha said he did not believe the bills would help Thaksin Shinawatra return.