Key political figures yesterday sent their best wishes to the public to mark the traditional Thai new year while pleading for peace and unity ahead of a feared surge in political tension after the Songkran break.
In a message to mark the water festival, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he wished all sides of the political conflict would try to understand each other and resolve the gridlock together.
He argued that it would be in the best interest of the country if a functioning political system were restored after Songkran.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday took a break from politics to celebrate Songkran in her home province of Chiang Mai with her son Supasek Amornchat. She sent her best wishes to the public but refrained from discussing the political situation.
National police chief Adul Saengsingkaew said yesterday he hoped Songkran would offer the opportunity for all Thais to lift the country out of political crisis and move forward.
He said police would do their best to reduce confrontation between opposing groups and help avert any damage that might be inflicted on the country as a result of the turmoil.
Banharn Silpa-archa, Chartthaipattana Party chief adviser, said he hoped the political situation would improve after Songkran, arguing that conflict could be alleviated if all sides agreed to take a step back and put the country’s interest before their own.
Political tension dropped down the agenda as people across the country celebrated Songkran. But the pause is predicted to be limited to the duration of the public holiday.
Leaders of the pro-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) are calling on their supporters to prepare for bigger rallies against one another.
Protesters are expected to turn out en masse when the Constitutional Court hands down a ruling on Ms Yingluck’s status over the removal order that she issued against National Security Council (NSC) chief Thawil Pliensri.
The National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC) is also expected to rule on the premier’s alleged role in failing to tackle corruption in the rice-pledging scheme.
Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai, meanwhile, plans to seek a Constitutional Court ruling to settle a dispute over who has the authority to reconvene the Upper House to discuss an impeachment petition.
The opening of the Senate meeting session is crucial because if the charter court rules against Ms Yingluck, the burden of selecting a new prime minister might fall to the Senate — although whether that will happen is still debatable.
Former premier Thaksin Shinawatra also pleaded for unity and peace in the country.
In a message broadcast on digital TV Channel 4 on Saturday, Thaksin said the current situation was chaotic because “rule is not rule, law is not law”.
He said people with the duty to provide justice are failing to perform.
The former prime minister said he wished to see unity returned to Thailand and asked the public to put the past behind them and live for the future.
“I hope Thais will turn to each other and rebuild unity and a future for the country and our children.
‘’Use the water to wash away bad things. I hope people who enjoy speaking ill of others will be truthful,” he said.
His remark drew sharp criticism from Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut who called on the ex-prime minister to respect all laws, and not just the ones that would benefit him.
According to Mr Chavanond, Thaksin and his family chose only to obey the laws that they could exploit.
“He [Thaksin] and his family are the reason that the law is not law. They’ve destroyed the law and the rule of law like never before,” he said.
Mr Chavanond said peace would be returned to society if Thaksin would stop destroying the country and order Ms Yingluck to respect the law.
Pheu Thai deputy spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard also called on all sides to do their jobs properly to avoid possible confrontation after Songkran.
He said that happiness would return to society if people do their jobs and refrain from intimidating others.
On his Facebook page, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan wished supporters a happy Songkran and urged them to return to their “fight” after the holiday.
Meanwhile, a Suan Dusit poll showed that the issue causing Thai people most stress is ongoing political problems, followed by economic problems.
According to the poll, 97.18% of people said political problems were the issue that caused them most stress.