Military calls for legal action over sedition; Chalerm insists there's no evidence
THE CALL for secession by pro-government groups and red shirts in the north has become a new subject of a dispute, with legal action being sought for the seditious act by the military and the anti-government movement using it to strengthen its attacks against the caretaker government. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday threatened to take further action by gathering signatures and filing sedition charges against red-allied groups with police.
Core PDRC leader Satit Wongnongtaey said he did not expect the Department of Special Investigation, which he claimed sides with anybody in power, to take any action. Members of the Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR) marched to Pheu Thai Party’s headquarters yesterday to rally against government supporters and red-shirt groups who have been calling for the country to be split up.
After failing to remove the metal letters spelling the party’s name from the front wall, they settled for hanging banners carrying messages attacking those seeking to partition the country. Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who is overseeing the government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order, said he did not back partitioning the country and that police officers who had accepted complaints from military prosecutors had found no evidence of any attempts being made to split the country. He also pointed out that political instability would never end if independent agencies such as the Constitutional Court and National Anti-Corruption Commission came up with rulings that please PDRC chief Suthep Thaugsuban, but went against the feelings of the Thai majority. He said anybody who wanted to dislodge Yingluck Shinawatra’s government using such rulings wanted to see the country in disarray. Deputy Army spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree repeated the Army’s stance on treating all political sides fairly, saying that complaints were not filed against pro-Pheu Thai red shirts in particular, but against anybody who was found engaged in seditious activities. He said the Army was not backing the PDRC, which he said has already been charged for several offences by the CMPO that also has authority over Army units in Bangkok. Acronym ‘being misused’ Meanwhile, Kasem Penhinan, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer, reiterated that the Sor Por Por Lanna acronym used by the red shirts was actually derived from Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD) – a political forum comprising red shirts and people against PDRC. He insisted that the acronym did not stand for the People’s Democratic Republic of Lanna. The AFDD was formed loosely after a press conference held in December to discuss the PDRC movement and the massive support it was getting. Later an AFDD Facebook page was created, which won some 50,000 likes in a few hours and now has more than a million likes, he said. Sor Por Por, he said, comprises people who back democracy, regardless of their political colours. He also dismissed rumours that splitting up the country was an AFDD cause, saying that the banners calling for partitioning the country and the Sor Por Por Lanna had been put up by members, not the AFDD leaders who never wanted to create a Lanna state. Kasem said the call for secession came from some people who feel society is ignoring them, rather than a serious attempt to partition the country. He said the military had the right attitude toward the political instability, but had failed to check out information about the AFDD’s stance before talking about taking legal action.