Abhisit, PAD and the UDD

3 08 2009

Saritdet Marukatat, a Bangkok Post opinion page writer, has an interesting take on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Sondhi Limthongkul assassination case (Bangkok Post, 3 August 2009: “PM’s handling of police chief has backfired”).

Saritdet sees Abhisit as being too compliant on PAD: “But the most surprising move was from the prime minister who has been dancing to the tune called by the PAD leader in recent weeks.” He points out: “The prime minister has unnecessarily got himself into trouble. After handling the Patcharawat case, Mr Abhisit will not have more enemies. But he will have fewer admirers.”

Meanwhile, Abhisit seems to have decided that he needs to attack the red shirts and their supporters. It is noticeable that all talk of reconciliation has gone as Abhisit has come to realize that the Democrat Party is losing electoral ground. In a Bangkok Post (3 August 2009: “Abhisit threatens to sue UDD over petition”) report, Abhisit says that he “will take legal action against United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders if they are found to have coerced people into making false statements in signing a petition to seek a pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

This view is odd. Previously, Abhisit claimed people were “misled.” Now he claims coercion. However, PPT has seen no reports of alleged coercion but we may assume that such cases will now be manufactured.

Abhist was being interviewed by television host and PAD ally Chirmsak Pinthong, and said that if the “UDD filed the petition with the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, the office would seek a reaction from the government and the government must verify the petition.” He stated: “The government must check, no matter how many signatures there are, who they are, where they live and if they really have that intention…”. If there are 4-5 million signatures, this will take a very long time to complete. Again, the Democrat Party PM is implying a threat to those who sign up in what is a completely legal activity. Abhisit, though, takes the disingenuous view that the petition is “improper and contradicted legal principles.”

Abhisit asserted that “The persons who file [the petition] must make sure that the petitioners really express that intention and understand the content before signing it. Otherwise, they [persons filing the petition] will be considered as luring other people or filing a false statement.” And he threatened, “If the investigation found any wrongdoing, the government would take legal action against those involved…”. He then adds an interesting point: “the wording does not seek a pardon…” and claims that this is wrong.

Abhisit is again in tune with PAD on this issue. PAD’s Suriyasai Katasila, said that the “UDD had misled people into believing that with a large number of signatures, His Majesty the King would pardon Thaksin.” Suriyasai claimed that “UDD leaders know the move does not meet the criteria for a royal pardon, but used the activity as a tool to mobilise support for Thaksin.”

He urged the government to take the matter very seriously as he believed that it “could escalate from a political conflict into a national security problem.” In other words, an attack on the monarchy.

Those supporting the petition have responded. Peua Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit is reported in The Nation (3 August 2003: “Govt to check names seeking royal pardon for Thaksin”) as saying that “the people were entitled to appeal to His Majesty the King according to Article 91 of the Constitution and the government should let them exercise their rights.”

PPT believe that he refers to Article or Section 191, not 91. Section 191 states: “The King has the prerogative to grant a pardon.”

Prompong also said that “the party would file a complaint on Wednesday with the National Anti-Corruption Commission against Interior Minister Chaovarat Chanweerakul and the ministry’s permanent secretary Wichai Srikwan for instructing governors and district chiefs to oppose the petition and urge people to withdraw their names. He accused the two of malfeasance for violating Articles 157 and 259 of the Criminal Code.”

Thaksin has also phoned in to a “community radio program in Chiang Mai attacking the government for depriving citizens of their rights for the move to block the petition.”

Meanwhile, a “group called “Thais who love peace”, led by Dr Wallop Yangtrong, held a press conference to attack the Council of University Presidents of Thailand for opposing the signature drive, saying the people have the right to seek royal mercy and it is the royal prerogative to make that decision.” The rectors action was questioned as “a possible offence to the power vested in the monarchy.”



2 responses

4 11 2013
Partisan professors | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] we decided to do a little more research on the Council. Our own pages mentioned an earlier statement by the Council that was decidedly […]

4 11 2013
Partisan professors | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] we decided to do a little more research on the Council. Our own pages mentioned an earlier statement by the Council that was decidedly […]

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