PM urged to take amnesty stance

PM urged to take amnesty stance

The Democrat Party has called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to clarify her stance on the reconciliation and amnesty bills.

Democrat MP for Rayong Sathit Pitutecha yesterday handed a letter making the demand to the public service centre at the Prime Minister's permanent secretary office at Government House.

Deputy secretary-general to the prime minister Suporn Atthakorn received the letter on Ms Yingluck's behalf.

Mr Sathit said the move was intended to push Ms Yingluck into taking clear positions on the amnesty bill proposed by Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema, and the reconciliation bill proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

He said the bills could whitewash the crimes of deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and seek to return 46 billion baht in seized assets to him.

Mr Sathit said that even though Mr Chalerm had decided to remove Section 5 of his bill, which concerned financial compensation for people affected by the actions of the state, there are still problems with other parts of the bill.

Section 4 seeks to nullify all convictions and charges brought against anyone by the coup-appointed Assets Scrutiny Committee or the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, he said.

Mr Chalerm had Section 5 removed to avoid Ms Yingluck having to endorse it.

That section could have made the bill a piece of financial legislation, requiring the prime minister's endorsement before it is forwarded to parliament.

In that case, if parliament did not endorse the bill, the prime minister and her entire cabinet would have to take responsibility by resigning.

But critics claim Section 4 could also be interpreted as being finance-related, as it could lead to the return of Thaksin's seized assets.

Mr Sathit said if Ms Yingluck wants to restore peace and harmony to the country, she must not push ahead with the bills.

Mr Chalerm's bill seeks to grant a blanket amnesty to everyone involved in political unrest, from the 2006 military coup to the 2010 crackdown on the red shirts at Ratchaprasong intersection.

The amnesty would cover state authorities responsible for the crackdown on protesters. The Worachai bill seeks to grant an amnesty to people convicted of crimes related to political violence but will not cover Thaksin, protest leaders or those who ordered the use of force to quell the protests.

Mr Chalerm said yesterday he was not upset with the Pheu Thai Party's resolution to support the Worachai bill.

The Worachai bill has now been moved up to the top of the agenda pending consideration during the next parliamentary session in August.

Mr Chalerm said he was ready to support the party resolution and insisted there was no conflict among party members.

He has authorised Yasothon MP Piraphan Palusuk, the party's legal adviser, to decide whether to submit his bill to parliament.

Mr Chalerm said that at least he had kept his promise that he would do everything in his power to bring Thaksin back to Thailand.

He insisted Section 5 of his proposed bill was not finance-related and there was no need for the prime minister to be quizzed on the issue as the bill was submitted on the party's behalf, not by the government.

Democrat Party list-MP and opposition whip chief Jurin Laksanavisit yesterday criticised Ms Yingluck for trying to distance herself from the two bills by saying it was the task of parliament to handle the bills, not the government.

Mr Jurin said Section 4 of Mr Chalerm's bill was still finance-related as it would lead to the return of seized assets to Thaksin.

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