May 24, 2013 00:00 By Olan Lertrudtanadumrongkul,
Pheu Thai MPs yesterday tabled a national reconciliation bill drafted by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung for Parliament's deliberation, saying the bill seeks amnesty for all political groups so that the country can move forward.
A group of 15 northeastern Pheu Thai MPs led by Peerapan Palusuk from Yasothon submitted the bill, which has been endorsed by 163 MPs, to Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol. Charoen said the bill must undergo scrutiny, adding that if it were found to involve fiscal matters, it would need the prime minister’s endorsement.
The group of MPs, however, said that Article 5 of the original draft, which stated that those affected by the country’s political conflicts would receive compensation, had been removed. They said the provision was not needed as the government has already started giving compensation to affected parties. Government critics view the provision’s removal as an attempt to help the prime minister avoid shouldering any responsibility for the legislation. The prime minister is required to endorse all bills relating to fiscal issues.
Peerapan adamantly denied that Article 4 of the bill was written with a hidden agenda to return to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra Bt46 billion in assets seized from him by the state. He said Thaksin could not get his money back through this bill, but only through a budget-related fiscal bill.
Peerapan said Chalerm’s bill is not related to fiscal affairs, describing its content as similar to that of a bill drafted earlier by Matubhum party-list MP General Sonthi Boonyaratglin. That draft was found by the House Speaker and 35 House committees not to be related to fiscal matters and not to violate the Constitution.
He said it is possible that lawmakers would ask the House to urgently deliberate the bill. The first bill slated for deliberation on the House agenda when Parliament reconvenes on August 1 is the amnesty bill drafted by Pheu Thai Samut Prakarn MP Worachai Hema.
Asked if the Pheu Thai MPs were sincere about supporting the bill or were simply placating Thaksin, Peerapan said the move was not aimed at fooling anyone.
“The person who is most affected is Thaksin. If we are not sincere with him, how can we go on?” he said.
Asked how Pheu Thai would respond to the demands of red shirts who do not want to see those who ordered the deadly crackdown on their group’s protests spared justice, Peerapan said the passage of the bill relies very much on ensuring amnesty for all sides, not just one side.
Today, Chalerm plans to lead a group of politicians to make a public address on the bill at Udon Thani’s Tung Sri Muang, which is expected to be attended by up to 70,000 people,” Pheu Thai Udon Thani MP Anant Sripan said. “This will be like a new beginning, as the country will get to start all over again.”
Chulalongkorn University political scientist Pornsan Liengboonlerschai said he did not believe the law would achieve reconciliation, as besides legal issues, reconciliation also involved social factors.