Pheu Thai stands firm in support of Worachai amnesty bill

Pheu Thai stands firm in support of Worachai amnesty bill

The Pheu Thai Party agreed on Wednesday that the first amnesty bill to be debated by the House when it resumes would be the draft legislation presented by Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema.

However, relatives of the victims of the 2010 political violence showed they would not give up the fight to have their people's amnesty bill adopted by the parliament.

Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said the majority government party would back chief whip Amnuay Khlangpha's proposal that the House should first deliberate the amnesty bill proposed by Mr Worachai in its first reading on Aug 7-8.

Mr Amnuay made the announcement after a meeting of coalition whips to decide which bills are to be debated first when parliament resumes in ordinary session on Aug 1.

He said it was also agreed the House should debate the second and third readings of the 2014 Budget Bill on Aug 14-15 and that the 2.2 trillion baht loan bill for transport infrastructure development be deliberated the following week.

The whips had not decided when to put the three constitutional amendment bills on the House agenda, since the committee scrutinising them had not completed its work, he said.

On concerns over possible violence inside and outside parliament during the deliberation of the amnesty bills, Mr Amnuay said the matter would be taken care of by security agencies.

Parliament now has five amnesty bills to consider, including the one engineered by Mr Worachai.

Relatives of victims of the 2010 political violence on Wednesday sought support from the Bhumjaithai Party for their proposed people's amnesty bill, which would raise the number to six.

The delegation of relatives was led by Payao Akkahad, mother of volunteer nurse Kamolkade Akkahad who was shot dead in Wat Pathumwanaram on May 19, 2010, and Punsak Srithep, father of Samaphan Srithep, who was killed in the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters on May 15, 2010.

They submitted a copy of their draft amnesty bill to Bhumjaithai leader Anuthin Charnvirakul through party deputy secretary-general Supachai Jaisamut.

Mrs Payao said that since the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties stand to lose or gain the most from any amnesty bill, they were instead looking for support from other parties, both in the government and the opposition bloc, so that their proposals would truly be a people's bill.

She said the relatives would next ask for support from the Chartthaipattana Party and its chief adviser Banharn Silpa-archa.

Mr Punsak said they were not worried by the fact that Pheu Thai did not back their bill because they need only 20 MPs to support it, in order that it be submitted to parliament for consideration.

Since the Democrats had voiced support for their proposed legislation, the relatives would be glad if the party submitted its own bill along the same lines as theirs, he said.

The relatives said they want to help people of all political affiliations, particularly relatives of both protesters and soldiers who lost their lives in the political violence, to guarantee that there would not be similar crackdowns on protesters in the future.

Mr Supachai, the Bhumjaithai deputy secretary-general, said his party supported the relatives' draft because it was a way of reducing conflict in society, adding that innocent people should be granted amnesty.

The relatives' draft amnesty bill would be forwarded to a meeting of the party executive committee and MPs for consideration on July 30, he said.

The relatives  said they also planned to meet Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to get her support.

Ms Yingluck said she would welcome the meeting and reiterated that parliament is the place in which the amnesty issue should be discussed.

The prime minister said she had left it up to whips to decide which bills should be put up for debate. The cabinet  was not involved in deciding which bills would be debated or when, she said.

Mrs Payao and her group have criticised the other amnesty bills for failing to reflect the needs of victims.

The main issue of her bill is to pardon all protesters from the period since the coup ousting then caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sept 19, 2006 to May 9, 2011. It excludes those responsible for the deaths and violence.

They argue that the people's bill benefits both the red and yellow shirts in their separate rallies.

Pheu Thai MP Weng Tojirakarn said Pheu Thai would not change its decision to back the Worachai bill as Mrs Payao's proposed legislation would not benefit red-shirt members fighting criminal charges including arson at  the CentralWorld shopping centre.

 Red-shirt members led by Wutthipong Kochathammakhun, a leader in Pathum Thani province, said they have not been consulted on the people's amnesty bill and remained firm on their support of the one proposed by Mr Worachai.

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