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Amnesty Bill

Business says no to blanket amnesty

Full pardon would destroy country's moral code, says Anti-corruption group

THE ANTI-CORRUPTION Organisation of Thailand (ACT), an alliance of private-sector groups, has stepped forward to oppose granting a blanket amnesty for those involved in the 2010 political turmoil that left more than 90 people dead.

The ACT includes finance and business organisations such as the Board of Trade, Federation of Thai Industries, Thai Bankers Association, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Thai Institute of Directors, Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, the Thai Listed Companies Association, and the Association of Thai Securities Companies.

This development came as a panel of Pheu Thai strategists agreed yesterday with plans for a party resolution to back the blanket amnesty, as proposed by the House committee vetting the government-proposed amnesty bill.

"Revising Article 3 to allow amnesty for graft offences will create the false value that cheating is not wrong," ACT chairman Pramon Sutivong said yesterday.

Pramon said relevant parties should be mindful that an amnesty would destroy the country's moral and ethical code, and do untold damage to society.

The government had pledged to root out corruption, as evidenced by its announcement of July 2, but the amnesty bill would do completely the opposite of that pledge, he said. He said anti-corruption advocates had mapped out retaliatory measures to take should the bill become law.

The ACT said it would today submit a letter to the United Nations office in Bangkok, in protest at the change to the amnesty bill so that it grants a blanket pardon.

In a related development, the House committee vetting the bill has finalised its endorsement of the minutes of its meetings, thus concluding its work.

The committee report would be checked for typographical errors before being forwarded to the House Speaker to place on the legislative agenda, Pheu Thai MP Chavalit Wichayasut said.

House of Representatives Speaker Somsak Kiartsuraont is expected to receive the report this week.

Chair of the vetting committee Samart Kaewmeechai said the exclusion of lese majeste from the amnesty was justified because offenders had violated the monarchy, which by constitutional provisions had no link to the political mayhem.

Samart was commenting on a statement made by law lecturer Vorachet Pakeerat of the Nitirat Group.

Vorachet said that the amnesty might be arbitrary and unconstitutional because it did not apply to those offending the monarchy.

Article 30 of the Constitution states that legal provisions should be equally applicable to all without discrimination.

Vorachet has scheduled a press conference on Thursday to outline what he says are flaws in the amnesty bill.

Yesterday, Pheu Thai's panel of strategists convened to discuss the party's stance on the proposed change to the original bill so that it would grant a blanket amnesty, according to a party source. The meeting was chaired by Pheu Thai leader Charupong Ruangsuwan, who is also Interior minister.

The panel agreed that all Pheu Thai MPs should vote in support of the new version of the bill changed by vetting committee, which is dominated by coalition MPs, according to the source. The panel claimed an amnesty law would lead to national reconciliation, the source said.

In response to reports some red-shirt Pheu Thai MPs might vote against a blanket amnesty, the panel agreed they should respect the party resolution on the matter. However, the panel also forecast that government critics and detractors would attempt to play up this issue in a bid to bring down the government, the source said.

Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong, who is a red-shirt leader, said yesterday that the red shirts were split on whether to support or to oppose the blanket amnesty. He said he would "feel pained" if Pheu Thai went ahead with the blanket amnesty, but he would not take to the streets to protest against it.

An influential politician in the ruling party met with its red-shirt politicians Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikua last Friday and asked them to help secure ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra's return to Thailand, according to another Pheu Thai source. The politician pleaded in tears for the red-shirt MPs' help, saying that Thaksin "has been suffering for many years already", the source said.


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