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 more divisive emotions in Thai society.
People who had already signed in support of the petition could always withdraw their names once they have a better understanding, he said.
He denied the government was acting too late in this matter. The minister of justice had earlier explained the royal pardon process to the general public, he said.
Meanwhile, the Bhumjaithai party has erected large billboards at four street corners in Bangkok with a message opposing the red-shirts’ petition.
The coalition partner, led by banned politician Newin Chidchob, has also distributed stickers opposing the petition to taxi drivers to post in their cabs, urging people not to support the red shirts’ campaign.
Bhumjaithai deputy spokeswoman Suphamas Issaraphakdee said the party had also directed its MPs to visit the people in their constituencies to explain to them that the move to seek a royal pardon was inappropriate and outside normal legal procedure.
Petition signers given way to withdraw
The Interior Ministry has ordered assistant governors of 76 provinces throughout the country to set up a table at provincial and district offices to allow people who signed a petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra to officially withdraw their names from it.
Interior Minister Chavarat Charnveerakul said on Thursday that he decided to do this after the Bhumjaithai Party received complaints from a large number of people that they had signed up the petition not knowing that according to the law it must be done by family members of the convict.
The Bhumjaithai leader said he would ask community radio stations to inform the people to withdraw their names from the petition at the city halls or district offices.
Mr Chavarat said many people might think he was too slow to act but this was better than doing nothing, adding that had consulted with other coalition leaders and they all agreed.
BangkokPost.com / 30/07/2009 at 05:47 PM
Military ordered to monitor the pardon petition
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan on Thursday instructed the armed forces to monitor the signature campaign to endorse the petition seeking a royal pardon for ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
In his instruction, Prawit said the armed forces are obligated to uphold the monarchy and that the pardon petition is a sensitive issue impacting on the country’s revered institution.
He ordered the military leaders to ensure social peace and safeguard the monarchy.
PARDON-THAKSIN PETITION: State media cautioned
State-rum media outlets have been instructed to launch an awareness campagin to remind the public about the improper conduct to politicise the monarchy via the pardon petition, PM’s Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey said on Thursday.
“The issue of a royal pardon has caused so much confusion and organisers of the signature campaign have been acting in reckless disregard for the law,” he said.
Satit said the red shirts wanted to push ahead about seeking a royal pardon for ex-premier Shinawatra Thaksin as a pretext to deepen the social divisions.
He urged the people to be cautious, otherwise they might unwittingly mired the monarchy in a political game.
Thai PM warns against royal pardon petition for Thaksin
Abhisit said a royal pardon could be sought only by Thaksin himself, or his relatives, and only once he had served at least part of his sentence.
“The royal pardon should be his (Thaksin’s) own individual initiative or that of his family members and it’s not reached that stage because Thaksin has not yet served the sentence,” Abhisit told reporters.
“It’s not possible for people to sign up to seek a royal pardon,” he said, adding that those behind the document were “manipulating innocent people.”
“We have to be cautious because these masterminds have complicated matters and people could fall victim to their provocations,” he said.
Two million people oppose Thaksin pardon
More than two million had signed their names in opposition of the campaign to seek royal pardon for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Deputy Interior Minister Boonjong Wongtrairat claimed on Saturday.
The ministry had earlier ordered provincial governors and district chiefs nationwide to arrange tables for people who want to sign to show disagreement with the royal pardon seeking campaign by leaders of the pro-Thaksin United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).
Mr Boonjong said he expected that by late next week, his ministry would be able to announce official number of people who disagree with the red shirts’ move to seek royal pardon for Thaksin.
UDD leaders, Veera Musigkapong and Jatuoporn Promphan, had on Friday insisted that they will submit the petition to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Secretary on August 17.
House Speaker Chai Chidchob said he was confidence that the Ministry of Interior’s order on the signatures collecting campaign against Thaksin pardon will not lead to a severe social division because Thai people have the same beloved father—HM the King.
“I will next week invite Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej and his two deputies to discuss ways for national reconciliation creating”, Mr Chai said, adding that after that he will invite representatives from political parties for a similar discussion.
Representative from the government will be invited after the premier had study proposals on charter amendment recommended by the parliamentary Committee for Reconciliation, Political Reform and Constitutional Amendment, he said.
Bangkok Post , 8/08/2009