On 26th August 2013, former Yellow Shirts leader, Sondhi Limthongkul was at the Criminal Court to listen to the prosecutors’ case against him and three other Yellow Shirts co-leaders including; Major General Chamlong Srimuang, Somsak Gosaisuk and Suriyasai Gatasila. They were charged for leading the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters to storm the Parliament building back in 2008. All of them have pleaded not guilty and the trial for evidence examination process is set for 28th November 2013.
During an interview after the hearing, Mr. Sondhi Limthongkul said that he was ready to work together with the Red Shirts if the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) could part company with former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and did not offend the monarchy. He said that if the Red Shirts campaign is to reduce inequality and to help people earn a better living, their objectives would match those of the PAD and both groups could work together.
Sondhi said this after he and other core leaders of the PAD quit the movement’s leadership last Friday. He said the leaders resigned because they wanted to reform Thai politics and for the PAD supporters to make their own decisions about whether they would join other political groups, not because they have accepted money from Thaksin as rumoured.
In response to Sondhi’s comment, Assoc. Prof. TidaTavonseth, Chairwoman of the UDD, suggested to him that he join the government-initiated Unity Forum if he had an interest in political reforms and denied that the UDD was “clinging on” to former PM Thaksin. Ms Tida also said the UDD did not condone those who offended the monarchy but it believed in freedom of expression and difference of ideologies.
“If Sondhi’s interest is to reform the country, he should join the Unity Forum because I believe that the government would be willing to listen to his propositions,” Mrs. Tidasaid.
“The UDD does not cling on to one individual such as Thaksin Sinawatra or the Pheu Thai’s government. Because even if Thaksin were allowed to come back but sovereign powers still do not belong to the people, the UDD will continue to exist. We will fight on until the country truly becomes a democratic state. Former PM Thaksin is only another victim of a military coup d’état; this is why we fight alongside each other. I would like Sondhi to rethink whether who is it really that is still clinging on to Thaksin,” she added.
The president of the UDD also suggested that political reform through the Unity Forum should involve more participation of the people, not only contributions from the elites. The suggestion for political reforms is a good idea but it is still the beginning process. Therefore, the government should listen to all sides. This includes the idea of the former leader of the Yellow Shirts as well.