Interior Minister and leader of Pheu Thai Party, Jarupong Ruangsuwan, along with Mr. Phumtham Wechayachai, General Secretary of the party and Mr. Udomdej Rattanasathien, Ex-Government Chief Whip,announced to the press yesterday morning (24/07/13), that the Amnesty Bill of Samut Prakarn MP Worachai Hema will be the only bill to be debated when the Parliament reconvenes. The date is set for the Amnesty Bill to be debated on August 7, 2013 and it will be the first bill to be deliberated. All other amnesty bill versions have been discarded, including the recently proposed bill known as “the People’s Amnesty Bill”.
“Following the Pheu Thai Party’s strategic policy meetings on July 23rd, 2013, and after Members of Parliament have agreed that Mr. Worachai Hema’s Amnesty Bill will be the first and only bill to be deliberated when the parliament reconvenes, members of the party have decided to throw their full support for the bill,” said Mr. Phumtham. “The Amnesty Bill will be deliberated by the Members of Parliament from August 7-8, 2013,” he added.
Mr. Phumtham also believed that the party’s decision to endorse the drafted bill would lessen existing tension and improve the reconciliation process in society because it will grant amnesty to all political prisoners of all colors except their leaders. “This bill will not create any further conflict and violence as was the concern of many,” Phumtham added.
Mr. Jarupong told the press, “Amnesty is something that has been done in the past. This is normal when there were situations that could not be resolved.” “Officers at the Interior Ministry have conducted a survey with a sample size of 75,000 people from the population and compiled studies from different departments. The result is unanimous. Amnesty is appropriate. This is why we decided to push for this bill,” said the Interior Minister.
Mr. Udomdej ended the announcement by informing the press that the second hearing of the 2014 Budget Bill will be discussed from 14–15 August, 2013. “Pushing for the Amnesty Bill was the intention of the Party since the beginning; there is a need to protect citizens that came out to exercise their democratic rights,” he said.
Regarding Mr. Alongkorn Ponbut, vice president of the Democrat Party, proposition to jointly present another Amnesty Bill along with Worachai Hema’s bill, Mr. Phumtham said, “It is easy to see that the essence of Mr. Woracahi Hema’s bill is aim for citizen of all colours to benefit. It is a bill that will lessen the grievances of the population and minimize conflict in the society. If the Democrat Party has good intention and they wanted the situation to be unravelled, they should not oppose this bill, except if they have other hidden agenda such as to compromise the government position.”
When asked by the press whether the Party’s move to support the Amnesty Bill was done in order to keep their popularity during this vulnerable state, the Secretary General of the Pheu Thai Party said, “Our decision was not aimed at keeping supporters on our side but our intention is to keep peace within the society. Protestors are in distress due to the enforcing of post-coup law and this Bill will end their anguish. The Party’s proposition to amend three articles of the constitution also share the same goal and that is to maintain peace within the society.”
Meanwhile, another group of 2010 victims’ families has submitted a letter to Dr. Weng Tojilakarn, Co-Leader of the Red Shirts and Pheu Thai MP, to show their support for Mr. Worachai Hema’s Bill at the Parliament yesterday.
The group was led by Mr. Bunjerd Funggrinjun, relative of Mr. Therdsak Funggrinjun, a 29 year old who was shot in the chest multiple times at Kok-Wua intersection and later succumbed to his wounds at Rachavithi Hospital on May 11, 2010 and Mrs. Nuan Chaiman, a relative of Mr. Jaroon Chaiman, 46 year old taxi-driver who was shot in the chest by a high powered rifle at Din-Sor road in front of Satriwit School, on May 10, 2010.
The letter indicated the victims’ families group led by Mrs. Payoa Akhard did not consult with them before submitting the draft of “The People’s Bill” to the Prime Minister’s Office. Part of the letter reads,
“We have nothing to do with it (referring to the People’s Amnesty Bill), they (Mrs. Payoa and her group) did not consult with us. It was a one-sided claim. All of us here would like to show our support for MP Worachai Hema’s Bill and other legislation of the Pheu Thai Party because the current government has taken good care of us. We are Red Shirts and we choose to support the Pheu Thai Party and the government of PM Yingluck Shinawatra.”