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Emergency decree a quicker process for amnesty to bring Thaksin back

Panthongtae, the son of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said recently on his Facebook page that the voice in a mysterious audio clip widely distributed on the Internet belonged to his father - although he claimed the recording might have been edited.

Thaksin's spokesman Noppadon Pattama backs Panthongtae's claim, but he has not made it clear which part of the clip is edited.

On the contrary, he says people who believe the clip to be genuine have the right to prove it is not edited.

In his latest Facebook post, Panthongtae said he had talked to Thaksin about the controversial clip during their meeting in China. However, after that meeting, Panthongtae was still unable to shed any light on how the clip was edited.

Thaksin and Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, who was purported to be the other man talking in the clip, have kept their mouths shut publicly about this controversy. There are some interesting questions stemming from what was discussed in the controversial conversation, particularly involving the issue of amnesty.

Firstly, what is the difference between the issuance of an emergency decree and an act? In the clip, it appears that an emergency decree issued to achieve amnesty is preferred to help the ex-leader return home without having to face legal problems.

An emergency decree, issued by the Cabinet, can be achieved more quickly than an act, which needs to pass parliamentary deliberations. However, an emergency decree, which would be reported to Parliament later, can only be issued in the case of an emergency involving national security, public safety, economic security, or public disaster prevention.

A number of amnesty bills proposed by government politicians have run into strong opposition inside Parliament as well as on the street.

To help Thaksin free himself from his legal problems, an emergency decree would need to be issued for his amnesty. But political observers have expressed concern that this option could lead to a new round of severe political conflict in the country.

Another question is whether a law for amnesty can be issued through the Defence Council. The military top brass disagrees over this matter. Army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said it was the duty of the House of Representatives rather than the Defence Council to propose a new law. However, the permanent secretary for Defence, General Thanongsak Apirakyodhin, said the Defence Ministry Administration Act empowers the Defence Council to propose legislation.

According to the act, the Defence Council may suggest to the government an amnesty law, or the Cabinet may propose such a law for backing by the Defence Council. Support from the military may be critical in this matter. As the man whose voice appears in the clip says, "If the military doesn't side with them, the government's foes can be no threat at all."

Now that the content of the conversation has been widely distributed, it will be interesting to see whether the plot hatched will actually be implemented.

Some observers say any move by Thaksin's camp to do things discussed in the clip, particularly in relation to the amnesty, would only confirm its authenticity. However, it appears there are no other options for Thaksin.


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