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Amnesty Will Not Guarantee Thailand's National Reconciliation


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Amnesty will not guarantee national reconciliation

By Suthichai Yoon

The Nation


Bhum Jai Thai Party leader and Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul asked a very pertinent question the other day: "Why is it that whatever we propose to do is always opaque?"

If he has an answer to that question, he will probably have solved half of the serious problems facing this coalition partner that is on a collision course on many issues with Premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

One of the hottest moot points is Newin Chidchob's new campaign to propose an amnesty law that will pardon "innocent" protesters from the red, yellow and blue camps. Newin, the party's "owner", claims in a 24-page document issued on Tuesday that such political clemency would go a long way to moving the country closer to reconciliation.

In a paradoxical twist, the idea had the immediate effect of instant "reconciliation" of sorts: Both the Democrat Party, the main coalition partner, and Pheu Thai, the major opposition in the House of Representatives, reacted almost in unison, negatively, albeit for different reasons.

Democrat leader Abhisit didn't shoot the idea down instantly. He didn't have to, knowing full well that there would be enough sceptics who would make sure that any politically-motivated move by this controversial political figure would be aborted in no time.

Abhisit simply made it clear that offering amnesty to those involved in demonstrations over the past few years isn't high on the government's list of priorities.

In other words, he was sending out a clear message that despite protestations to the contrary, the Democrats aren't going to be dragged into a scheme that could set free all the politicians banned from politics for five years due to electoral fraud.

The Pheu Thai Party is supposed to be one of the main beneficiaries of amnesty, whether on a blanket or a selective scale. But coming from one of its arch-rivals, the proposed clemency was inevitably seen primarily as a pre-election campaign tactic rather than any serious attempt to resolve the long-standing conflict between the political protagonists.

Perhaps Bhum Jai Thai, worried about being defeated in the Northeast in the upcoming election, is trying to woo away some of the red-shirt voters in that region from Pheu Thai. Perhaps this coalition partner is plotting a breakaway from the Democrats.

But as far as substance is concerned, there was really nothing very novel about the move. It was the timing that caught the public's attention. Bhum Jai Thai had earlier submitted a similar bill - before the May riots involving the red-shirt protestors - but it was quietly shelved for lack of support in the House.

This time around, the party's renewed attempt was to expand the amnesty to cover "all parties to the conflict", but it didn't take long for observers to cast doubt over its real intention: Bhum Jai Thai expects a tough challenge in the upcoming election, especially in its strongholds in the southern constituencies in the Northeast region.

Bhum Jai Thai's official stance seems innocent enough. It wants nothing more than a forgive-and-forget bill that will reduce the degree of confrontation among warring parties. But critics were quick to point out that Newin is desperately trying to woo "red" voters in the Northeast in his struggle against Pheu Thai candidates in a region that could determine his political future after the next general election. He probably hopes that an amnesty bill that could be seen as helping reds facing charges related to the recent violence could help sway the votes his way.

Of course, Bhum Jai Thai party executives will vehemently deny such selfish political motives. Yet, they have failed to explain how an amnesty would automatically lead to national reconciliation. In fact, Deputy Premier Suthep Thuagsuban, a close political collaborator with Newin, effectively opposed the move by suggesting that such an amnesty could undermine the rule of law. He said that pardoning wrongdoers could encourage similar violations in the future.

Opponents of the proposal have said the red and yellow protestors may be delighted at being granted amnesty, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will bury the hatchet - as long as the yellow shirts are suspicious, whether it's true or not, that the reds will continue to push for Thaksin Shinawatra's innocence, and as long as the red shirts press on with their double-standards charge against their political foes.

Only a genuine respect by all parties concerned for the rule of law and judicial process can bring about true national reconciliation. Obviously, an amnesty bill tainted by the suspicion of a hidden political agenda won't be able to achieve that elusive goal.

Strange but true, now that Banharn Silpa-archa's Chart Thai Pattana Party has publicly joined Bhum Jai Thai in the "clemency" move, it has become even clearer that the purpose isn't to get the bill passed. The whole exercise is simply to make a hullabaloo, knowing full well the bill will be defeated from the very outset.


-- The Nation 2010-09-23

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Bhum Jai Thai Party leader and Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul asked a very pertinent question the other day: "Why is it that whatever we propose to do is always opaque?"

Maybe k. Chaovarat is in need of a mirror? Or a cloth to clean the one he has?

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The unmistakable image showing two Thais but the contrast couldn't be more pronounced. There is obviously a racial connotation to these demonstrations, and the government must bridge this important gap through concrete efforts when necessary.

But more that that, the red shirts need to see the world reality of "democratic" countries. They need to see where Thailand is in the context democracy, from a professorial point of view; they need education on comparative democracy.

At that point they will agree, Thailand is good and getting better. If their voices are heard, they should be satisfied with proposed changes. And how can their voices not be heard?

There are many "democratic" societies that they would agree are not free at all.

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Thailand is not ready to reconcile - ask anyone n the streets - all the wai's the bowing and kow taoing and dumb as* press reports?? Forget it. Underneath burns discontent and hatred. The outter crust is nothing like the inner core. Amnesty? What - pardon these as*holes who burned, shot and seized a city (both red and yellow)? The wealthy remain so - the poor remain poor. Frustration is breeding contempt and the Govt is deliberately remaining blind to it all with the exception of the man in the chair.

As impartial Farang such as us, standby and watch the cancer eat away at itself from within, will Thailand have the balls to recognise the manipulation of its people before it all falls in a heap of civil war? Time will tell.

Solution? Clean the fish from the head down. The PM is Thailand's best chance and all the other scrappers fighting for power and money should be swept into the dustbin. Bring in International management as mentors and start afresh. Even the KPMG's of this world at their ridiculous rates per hour would still be worth it in what it saves Thailand. Big business here will remain corrupt to a point but if they don't have easy access and their operatives are made full transparent, then it will be more difficult to remain corrupt.

Wishful thinking? Maybe...

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An amnesty can be part of reconcilliation if there is a whiole framework, but an amensty on its own is just a poltical ploy that has nothing to do with reconcilliation.

I don't agree.

Amnesty / reconciliation are just smokescreens for getting thaksin out of deep trouble along with his scaly cronies, and nothing more. Furher, anybody who has committed crimes regardless of their colours should be subject to the processes of the law and the appropriate laid down punishments.

There is a need for deep change in Thai socety and in the various pillars which build strong countries - quality education which includes teaching children and teenagers about how democracy works etc., is obviously the top priority.

A PM who can massiveely reduce corruption and can entire people who are highly capable, sincere and honest into the parliamnet and into ministerial positions will be the generator of change.

Amnesty will not, will never be a generator of the deep changes which are urgently and long overdue.

And further, amnesty destroys respect for the law and makes a mockery of justice. Amnesty for thaksin and his rabble and for the yellow shirts etc., who have committed crimes is not equitable and will, long-term, do more damage than good.

An amnesty (for the chosen) would create a highly undesireable legal precedent which would be used as an argument in the future, and legal precedents have great power to push the judges towards repeating the precedents which have happened in the past. This is just unthinkable.

The words amnesty and reconiliation should not be used in serious discussions about the policies and actions needed to reduce the gap and create much better opportunities for all Thais and therefore an overall better quality of life for all.

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The next 1,000,000 man march by Reds AND Yellows with Jatuporn and Sondhi marching arm in arm?

Jaturporn Warns of Huge Rally Against Amnesty Bill

Red shirt leader Jatuporn Phrompan has warned that the supporters of the red shirt movement would organize a large scale rally to garner protest against Bhum Jai Thai's proposed amnesty bill should the bill be forwarded to Parliament.

The same stance has been taken by yellow shirt leaders as well, saying they do not want amnesty and are willing to face charges brought against them.

Edited by Buchholz
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If such a law is passed and it should not be, then who gets to decide who is a political prisoner and who is a crim?

Jataporn is agreat example of someone who is given amaesty and thinks he can say or do anything and is completly above the law.

Was wondering if there is some correlation between all the stuff we are seeing now.

Is it possible that Thaksin has come to the belated realisation the reds aren’t going to get him back in power and that PTP are on a downhill slide and aren’t going to get an outright majority at the next election so won’t be able, on their own, to change the law to give him amnesty.

Is it possible that the (banned) owners of two political parties have come to some sort of agreement, with a big down payment, to get together after the next election and split the spoils?

Should no party gain a clear majority at the next election a coalition would need to be put together and as we see now it would not necessarily be the party with the most seats that heads said coalition.

If a deal has been done then the reviving of the amnesty bill could be a way to get parliament dissolved early by forcing the Dems to lose a vote.

The revival of the reds rallies and the PTP leaders musical chairs, organlsed to the ‘S’ family, may be a smokescreen to hide real behind the scenes movements.

Should such a coalition get into power all banned polys would then be pardoned and Thaksin would return.

2 list MP's would step down and Thaksin and Newin would be back in as PM and deputy.

Next we would see a constitution change to appoint a president for life.

With Thaksin as president and Newin as PM they could share the country between them.

But would the army allow it?

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Chavalit worried about amnesty bill

BANGKOK, 23 September 2010 (NNT) – Opposition Pheu Thai Party Chairperson and former Prime Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has voiced his concerns over the attempt of the Bhumjaithai Party to press ahead with the amnesty bill.

General Chavalit stated that he could understand that the Bhumjaithai Party was well-meant, but the amnesty bill itself was aimed at helping certain figures rather than enhancing democracy, which, in the long run, would harm the country instead of benefiting it.

The former Prime Minister also mentioned rumors that the Bhumjaithai Party was trying to push forward the amnesty bill to help the party's disenfranchised politicians, one of whom was tipped to become a new party leader.

General Chavalit also hinted that a person with an initial ‘S’ would come out and cause damages to the country in the future.

However, asked if the amnesty bill was part of the planned election campaign of the Bhumjaithai Party, the General refused to comment on the issue. He only said that the Bhumjaithai Party should work on the issue in a straightforward manner.


-- NNT 2010-09-23 footer_n.gif

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