Amnesty to Thaksin would spark conflict, Abhisit warns
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday warned the Yingluck Shinawatra government against amending the controversial lese-majeste law or granting amnesty to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, saying such moves would spark conflicts in society."I have always stressed that whatever issue causes conflict or is problematic should be set aside so that Thai society can have a chance to move forward. Those in politics should just remain still and do our best job. Do not think that it's bizarre because society can move by itself. The PM has said she will stay for a full term, and I think she can if she doesn't cause troubles," said Abhisit, who also cited the proposed amendment of the Constitution as one of the problematic issues.
Abhisit said the government should instead focus on tackling corruption and reviving the economy, which has been dealt a blow by the flood. He said the prices of basic commodities and energy had gone up and needed the government's attention. The matter will be raised when the House of Representatives meets today.
Regarding the proposal of Pheu Thai party-list MP Snoh Thienthong to have Thaksin kept under house arrest in Thailand instead of being jailed - like Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma - Abhisit said Snoh should find something more constructive to do and allow the judicial system to take its course.
Issues that the government should pay special attention to include preparing the country to integrate with the Asean community of nations.
Deputy House Speaker Nikom Wairatpanich said people might have differing expectations from the administration, especially on the need to amend the 2007 junta-sponsored charter.
Nikom criticised those who are trying to link the charter amendment to the move by civic groups to repeal the lese-majeste law as an attempt to create confusion among the public. He said Thaksin should go through proper judicial procedure, adding that any other move could lead to renewed conflict.
In a related development, Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut accused the government of failing to keep its campaign promise to help needy people. He cited the raising of prices of natural gas for vehicles and liquefied petroleum gas and the reduction of corporate tax from 30 per cent to 23 per cent as examples of policies that benefit the rich instead of the poor.
Chavanond added that in some areas, lower-income flood victims had still not been provided with adequate assistance by the government and suggested that the government extend the period for guaranteeing the purchase price of rice.