Thailand's opposition not interested in amnesty debate

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thailand's opposing Democrats have refused to join a talk on an amnesty law to be hosted by Deputy House Speaker Charoen Jankomol tomorrow, saying they would not allow an amnesty for criminal cases or help former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the Democrats would agree only to an amnesty for people who violated the Emergency Decree.

However, they did not trust Pheu Thai MPs and the red shirts who had submitted versions of an amnesty law, despite claims that only protesters, not leaders, would get an amnesty. The situation could end up with no one admitting to being protest leaders, to avoid facing penalties, he said.

Bhum Jai Thai Party spokesman Supachai Jaisamut said yesterday the party had just received Charoen's invitation but would have to discuss the issue before deciding whether to join in the talk and who would represent them.

Charoen had invited people from 10 groups to discuss an amnesty for those involved in political rallies in and before the turmoil in 2010. They include Pheu Thai Party, the red shirts, the Democrat Party, the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), people affected by the political turmoil, Nicha Hiranburana Thuwatham - wife of Colonel Romklao who was killed during the turmoil, the Truth for Reconciliation Committee of Thailand, anti-government Pitak Siam group and the military.

In a related development, Suan Dusit Poll yesterday revealed 38 per cent of respondents in Bangkok and its periphery said they are concerned that passing an amnesty bill could lead to another round of political conflict.

The poll, conducted in 1,079 people between March 6 and 8 also revealed that the second biggest group, or 32 per cent of respondents said they want an amnesty bill that would help the public interest, rather than any individual.

Some 29 per cent of respondents want to see more thorough debate on various competing amnesty bills.

Currently, eight amnesty bills have been proposed for the House of Representatives to consider.

Asked what the good aspects of the bills are, 62.5 per cent said assisting people who had not really committed wrongs, while 23 per cent said it would be a good opportunity to achieve reconciliation and end political problems. Some 14 per cent said passing an amnesty bill would enable the country to move forward.

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