Meeting gets positive response
Red, yellow-shirt leaders give 'in principle' okay to two proposals
Red-shirt and yellow-shirt leaders yesterday held a closed-door meeting with Deputy House Speaker Charoen Jankomol to discuss two proposed amnesty bills directed at those involved in the country's ongoing political conflict - one for protesters, and the other for protest leaders.
Although the meeting was unofficial and its results were inconclusive, attendants praised the atmosphere as one of mature and reasoned discussion.
Charoen invited Pheu Thai Party MP Worachai Hema (Samut Prakan), a representative from the Nitirat group, Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong, a representative of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD), and Panthep Puapongpan, a People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) representative, for a two-hour meeting on the amnesty bills.
Worachai said attendants agreed with the idea to issue both the first amnesty bill, to pardon those who violated the emergency decree, and the second bill, to pardon protesters as a way of reducing political conflicts. The bills would allow for the formation of a neutral central committee to decide who would be pardoned.
Although yellow-shirt leader Panthep agreed in principle with the two proposed bills, he said he was only attending the meeting in a personal capacity and not as a PAD representative.
He said other PAD leaders would maintain the principle of fighting the charges filed against them, because they believed the government at the time had violated their lawful right to protest by ordering the emergency decree.
Korkaew said the red shirts wanted to know what the PAD would and would not accept, adding that the PAD had ruled out an amnesty bill that whitewashes Thaksin Shinawatra. He said he would report on proposals discussed yesterday at a February 19 meeting of DAAD leaders and Pheu Thai Party members.
Panthep suggested that the amnesty bills should incorporate the proposal of Nicha Hiranburana, wife of General Romklao Thuwatham, that pardons only be granted to those who accept their guilt and pledge not to commit the same offence again. He added that opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has already accepted Nicha's proposal.
In related news, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday dismissed a proposal from Ukrit Mongkolnavin, chairman of the government-appointed Independent National Rule of Law Commission (NRLC), that amnesty be granted through an act of Parliament.
The NRLC wants the government to urgently bring an amnesty bill before Parliament.
Yingluck said legislation was the duty of Parliament. The government has so far preferred to consult on the issue with the Council of State, its legal advisory agency.