Senate Speaker commented that the move by Thaksin supporters to petition for a royal pardon with the Bureau of the Royal Household instead of the Justice Ministry was illegitimate and that if the supporters insist on pursuing a royal pardon this way, the petition will not reach the Privy Council for consideration but will be sent back to the Justice Ministry.
Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej said that conventionally, seekers of a royal pardon must submit their petitions with the Justice Ministry. He said if the red-shirt supporters try to circumvent the protocol by submitting their petition directly to the Royal Household Bureau, this procedure will be illegitimate..
Prasopsuk believes that if the red short group persists, their petition will not reach the Privy Council, which acts as a body of legal advisory to His Majesty the King on petitions, and their petition will be rejected and sent back to the Justice Ministry.
He added that to seek a royal pardon, one must be a convict who is serving time in prison and whose case has been finalised. Relatives of convicts can petition for a royal pardon on their behalf as well.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had a meeting with the senate’s committee on enforcement of law and measures in protecting the monarchy. The committee spokesman, Kamnoon Sittisamarn , revealed that the committee gave the premier a briefing on a move that would tarnish the monarchy. The movement is believed to be a joint effort between members of parliament, the media, and certain groups of people.
He added that those behind this movement have come up with new challenges, including petitioning for a royal pardon for Thaksin, and organizing the 60th birthday celebration for the ex-prime minister.
Kamnoon urged the government to ensure full enforcement of the law and measures to protect the monarchy. The committee suggested that Abhisit use his Sunday weekly programme to inform the public and instruct law enforcers on this issue, before the red-shirt supporters petition for a royal pardon for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
In the meantime, Abhisit insisted that the government has not been indifferent to this growing concern
Privy Council denies discussing pardon
The Secretariat of the Privy Council has denied as groundless a report that the council’s meeting on Tuesday had discussed the move by red-shirts to seek a royal pardon for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
In its statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the secretariat insisted that the meeting had not discussed the issue, as was reported by some Thai media.
Citing an informed source at the Privy Council, several local dailies reported on Wednesday morning that during the meeting of the Privy Council, chaired by president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, one councillor had raised the issue of the red-shirts’ planned petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin.
Some councillors admitted that they were concerned that the move by leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to collect one million signatures in support of a royal pardon could create a misunderstanding in society.
It could also mislead people who signed their names in support of the petition into believing that it was a constitutional action.
Council members who were formerly court judges said the collection of signatures in order to seek a royal pardon was unprecedented and that it could not be done.
“Only an offender who has served part of his jail term is eligible to seek a royal pardon. The seeking of a royal pardon must be done by the offender or his relatives,” one councilor was quoted as saying.
He added that the campaign was inappropriate and not in line with legal procedure.
The councillor said Thaksin should return and prove his innocence in court.
The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to explain to the public that the pardon petition was not a lawful move.
PAD core leader Pibhop Thongchai said it was the government’s duty to protect the royal institution and the judicial system, and the prime minister must take action if there was any movement affecting them.
“This affects the royal institution, national security and judicial procedure,” he said.
“This is interference in the judicial process, because those people leading the bid for a royal pardon treat this as a political game.”
Yingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of Thaksin, reiterated that the Shinawatra family wwould not be involved in the petition for a royal pardon.
Members of the family had not signed their names to the petition, she said. It was all the work of people who wanted to help her brother.
Senate Speaker Prasobsuk Boondej said only the relatives of a convict have the right to submit a request for a royal pardon, and that it must not be submitted directly to the Royal Household Bureau.
The request must be sent to the Justice Ministry for consideration first, he said.
Jatuporn Promphan, a UDD core leader, claimed that about three million people had now signed the pettition.
Bangkok Post / 29/07/2009
People urged not to join pardon drive
The government has warned supporters of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) that petitioning for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra will only stir up divisive emotions in Thai society.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban expressed his concern over the matter, saying that Thais should not do anything that disturbs His Majesty the King.
The government has tried to explain to the people that the petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin is inappropriate, he said. But the government cannot take any action if no wrong has yet been committed.
The country has gone through tough times, so people should not cooperate with any movement that would lead to further rifts in the country, he said.
Bangkok Post.com / 30/07/2009 at 11:18 AM
Pardon fight gains pace
Pressure grows on PM to stop petition drive
Opposition to the royal pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is heating up ahead of the red shirts’ campaign to submit a petition to His Majesty the King.
The People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Privy Council and the Bhumjaithai Party have made clear they oppose the petition and are pressing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to prevent it going ahead.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and other supporters of Thaksin plan to wrap up the signature campaign tomorrow before submitting it to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, probably on Aug 7.
Core leaders of the PAD yesterday held an urgent meeting to discuss a number of issues including the royal pardon petition for which the red shirts were hoping to get a million signatures.
Pibhop Dhongchai, a PAD leader, said the petition was a political move that would affect the monarchy and the judicial process as well as national security. The petition would put national security at risk by worsening the rifts between members of the public, he said.
The government is obliged to protect the monarchy and the country’s judicial system, Mr Pibhop said.
A military source close to Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda said Gen Prem was concerned about the strategy of Thaksin’s supporters.
He was reluctant to take action however as it concerned political conflicts, the source said.
He said some privy councillors who were former military top brass had questioned why the government and the military were doing nothing to stop the red shirts from submitting the petition.
They viewed the petition as an attempt to possibly drag the monarch into politics and put pressure on him.
A Privy Council source said Gen Prem had raised the issue of the red shirts’ petition at the Privy Council meeting on Tuesday. However, the Royal Household Bureau yesterday denied the council had discussed the issue.
The bureau’s comments were seen as an attempt to protect the Privy Council from attack for interfering in politics.
Privy Councillor Pichitr Kullavanijaya yesterday insisted members of the Privy Council had agreed the royal pardon move was inappropriate.
The Privy Council source said Gen Surayud Chulanont, a privy councillor and former prime minister, had raised the issue with army chief Anupong Paojinda, asking him what the army could do about it.
Gen Anupong told Gen Surayud that although the military was concerned the royal pardon petition could trouble His Majesty, it could not do anything directly because the petition was a political move, the source said.
The only way to block the red shirt campaign was to mobilise social pressure against them, Gen Anupong was quoted as saying.
Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, the Bhumjaithai leader, said the party had launched a campaign to counter the red shirts and warn Thaksin loyalists their petition was inappropriate and not permitted.
He said the party’s action was in line with the opinions of academics, the Privy Council and community leaders nationwide.
The party put up large billboards at four street corners in Bangkok with messages opposing the red shirt petition. Party leaders will distribute stickers with similar messages in high density areas.
A Bhumjaithai source said local leaders including kamnan and village chiefs had been ordered to oppose the royal pardon issue.
Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin’s younger sister, said no member of the Shinawatra family had taken part in the royal pardon campaign.
It was an effort by people who wanted to help Thaksin, she said.
Bangkok Post / 30/07/2009 at 12:00 AM