The prime minister , senators and a former member of the Assets Scrutiny Committee denounce red-shirt leaders for their ‘improper’ petition for a royal pardon for fugitive felon Thaksin Shinawatr.
PM, senators denounce petition for royal pardon for Thaksin
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Friday condemned as inapproriate the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship’s (UDD) campaign to collect a million signatures of support for a petition requesting royal clemency for fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The UDD leaders and their red-shirt supporters should not try to bring the royal institution into politics, he said.
To petition for a royal pardon, the convicted person or his relatives must present the petition, not other people purporting to act on their behalf.
Royal clemency could be granted only to convicted felons serving jail terms The most important thing, he said, was that Thaksin must first admit to his guilt.
Mr Abhisit said the government will ask state agencies to help ensure the general public has a clear understanding on this matter, so they do not become the dupes of those trying only to create confusion.
Former member of the defunct Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) Kaewsun Atibhodhi and his twin brother Kwansuang, a former senator, also took the red-shirt movement to task on Friday for its ”improper” petition.
They demanded at a press conference that the red-shirt group stop disturbing the royal family and drop its plan to gather a million signatures in support of a pardon.
Mr Kaewsun said he would use left over donations from his failed bid for the Bangkok governorship to place advertisements in newspapers informing readers about the red-shirts’ action and explaining why it would not bear fruit because it was in violation of the constitution.
Mr Kaewsun said would be willing to support the Puea Thai Party if it could find an acceptable new leader and could show it was a better alternative than the Democrat Party.
He insisted his opposition to the petition was not a love-hate issue between him and Thaksin. Rather, it was about the royal institution, which was the core of the nation.
The red-shirt leaders should not be acting this way. They knew how people who sign their names would feel towards the royal institution if His Majesty the King did not grant a pardon to Thaksin, he said.
Thaksin was sentenced to two years in jail after the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions last year found him guilty of abuse of power in his wife’s purchase of a prime block of land on Ratchadaphisek road from the Financial Institutions Development Fund in 2003 when he was prime minister.
Mr Kaewsun said the case against Thaksin was over. Thaksin should accept this and face his punishment according to the law.
A group of 40 senators also condemned the campaign, saying it would further divide the country.
Appointed senator Prasarn Marukaphitak said it would split the country in two — those who love His Majesty the King against those who love Thaksin.
He called on the campaign organisers to drop the plan, and urged the general public to think carefully before signing their names.
Bangkok senator Rosana Tositrakul slammed Thaksin, saying he was using the people as a shield to protect himself.
Thaksin should return to serve his jail term, and then petition for a royal pardon, she said.
Red-Shirt Group Slammed over Royal Pardon Campaign
The red-shirt group’s bid for a royal pardon for figitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has come under fire by leading political and administrative figures.
In response to an attempt by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship, or DAAD, to seek a royal pardon for Thaksin, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva commented that the Monarchy should not be dragged into politics.
He added that a formal petition should be filed by Thaksin himself, not by his red-shirt supporters.
Abhisit also warned the public not to be misguided by the red-shirt group’s claims in their defence of the campaign.
Some senators also voiced concern over the red-shirt campaign, saying that it could mislead the public. They also asked the media to present news about the DAAD’s movement carefully.
Meanwhile, former senator Kaewsan Athipothi and his brother Kwansuang questioned the red-shirt group’s effort to petition for royal clemency, saying that such a move is unjustifiable.
They also called on the DAAD supporters to stop the campaign and asked Thaksin to come back and answer to his charges.
Chairman of the Local Administration Association, Yongyot Kaewkeaw, said the request for a royal pardon could create a further unrest in the society. He added that he believes the public know whether the move is appropriate.
Yongyot also called on relevant authorities to examine details and procedure of the petition for any possible irregularities.
Royal pardon campaign slammed by PM, senators
A signature campaign by the red shirts to seek a royal pardon for fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra came under fire yesterday, including strong criticism from the prime minister.
A group of senators, the outspoken Atibodhi brothers and PM Abhisit Vejjajiva separately assailed the drive to collect 1 million signatures within a month.
Abhisit said politics should be kept away from the monarchy and he deemed the signature campaign inappropriate in politicising the revered institution.
“The petition for a royal pardon should be initiated by Thaksin or his family as a show of remorse. It should not be turned into a political issue with a great number of people being cited in order to influence royal discretion,” he said, in reference to the campaign to solicit 1 million signatures.
He said he would instruct authorities to explain the royal-pardon procedures to the public, in order to dispel misunderstanding that the red shirts can sponsor the petition on Thaksin’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Kaewsan Atibodhi, a former member of the Assets Examination Committee, and his brother Kwansuang Atibodhi, who is a university lecturer, held a press conference yesterday to call on the red shirts to stop the signature campaign.
The Atibodhis said the campaign would discomfort the monarchy. As far as they are concerned, such a pardon could not be granted because it would be unconstitutional.
“This is a political marketing strategy to gather signatures to pressure the [highest] institution,” Kaewsan said.
A group of senators also called a press conference criticising the signature campaign, which kicked off on Wednesday.
Somchai Sawaengkan, a member of the upper house, described the campaign as propaganda that would “never lead to reconciliation as advertised”. He added that such a move would instead cause uneasiness for His Majesty the King.
Senator Rosana Tositrakul called on the red shirts to end the signature campaign and stop involving the monarchy in politics. She expressed suspicion over the drive, saying she “smelled something fishy”.
Prasan Marukkapithak, an appointed senator, called on members of the general public who disagree with the signature campaign to express their views publicly and peacefully.
By The Nation
Published on July 4, 2009