Today’s weekly Cabinet meeting does not discuss the royal pardon petition for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra but the Prime Minister assures that the government will act on it fairly and transparently. Meanwhiile, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of national security says he is not concerned about the red-shirt group’s plan to stage a mass rally to pressure the government on the matter.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva revealed that today’s Cabinet meeting did not discuss the royal pardon petition for deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He affirmed that according to laws and regulations, the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary will forward the matter to the Office of the PM’s Secretary-General to catergorize the petition type. It will then be sent to the responsible state agency to further proceed with the matter.
Once concluded, the petition will be sent back to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary. Abhisit added that the government will not interfere in the process and will not attempt to dismiss nor delay the petition. The premier explained that the government’s only duty in this case is to give certain assistance when asked by the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary and it has no authority in making any decision.
Therefore, it is evident that the government cannot interfere in anyway with the process.
Abhisit further stated that under normal circumstance, it would take approximately 60 days to reach a conclusion when a royal pardon is filed. However, since this case involves millions of names and bulks of documents, all of which must be examined, the process would definitely take a lot longer than 60 days.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has revealed it is the Justice Ministry’s responsibility to set up an ad-hoc committee to find out whether the royal pardon petition complies with laws and regulations. Then the Justice Ministry will have to forward its conclusion to the PM’s Office for further deliberation. After that, the government will send its opinion along with suggestions back to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.
Suthep also asserted that he is not concerned if the anti-government red-shirt group would stage a mass rally to pressure the government over the matter.
Asked about the red-shirt group’s plan to disseminate knowledge about democracy to local villagers in the provinces, the deputy premier said they have the right to do so but it must be carried out legally and not further hurt the country.
In the meantime, PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey said that the government must quickly promote better public understanding about the proper procedure in petitioning for a royal pardon after the red-shirt group has misled the people that Thaksin will definitely be given a royal pardon after the petition is filed.
He also expressed his belief that Thaksin will not cease his political movement after the pardon petition was submitted.
Buck-Passing on Pardon Petition Proceeding
Although the Corrections Department says it cannot issue advice over the petition seeking a royal pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra due to the fact that he is not serving his two-year sentence, the Justice Minister insists the matter is under the responsibility of the department.
Justice Minister Pheerapan Salee-rathawiphak said he has received no details about the petition seeking a royal clemency for convicted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra from the Corrections Department, which he said is directly responsible for the matter.
Pheerapan noted that the department will take charge of studying the court’s verdict and verifying the qualification of the convict seeking the royal pardon.
The minister suggested the petition must be reviewed to find out whether it falls under the category of conveying suffering or seeking a royal pardon. He added no time frame is set for the consideration and no special panel will be established to work on it.
Meanwhile, director-general of the Corrections Department Nattee Jitsawang said his agency cannot make any suggestion about the petition as it has no information about Thaksin serving his two-year imprisonment sentence for abusing his power as prime minister to influence his ex-wife’s purchase of land from a state agency.
Nattee advised the Justice Ministry to seek information about the ruling on Thaksin’s case from the court while the decision on what should be done next solely rests with the minister.