Government claims 5 million sign anti-Thaksin pardon petition in a week

17 08 2009

An interesting sidebar on the presentation of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s campaign to petition for a “royal pardon” for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra relates to the government’s “data” and its presentation.

On 11 August, the Bangkok Post reported Deputy Interior Minister Boonjong Wongtrairat claiming that 5 million had signed up to the government’s anti-petition petition.

The deputy minister said that “the Interior Ministry would continue to accept people’s signatures for an indefinite period.” He added that the names on the government’s petition would not be “submitted along with the UDD petition because the ministry only wanted to let the people see how big the opposition was to the petition.”

Today, the very same deputy minister is reported again in the Bangkok Post (17 August 2009: “Boonjong: No obstruction to UDD”) stating that: “More than 10 million people have signed their names to oppose the royal pardon petition…”.

He is supported by Interior Minister  Chavarat Charnveerakul also in the Post (17 August 2009: “Chavarat: 10m oppose Thaksin petition”) who also claimed that “more than 10 million people throughout the country have signed in opposition against the petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra.”

The minister said that “the highest number or 4.7 million was in the Northeast – the traditional stronghold of the UDD.”

Chavarat also “insisted that those who signed the opposition had not been forced to do so” and then stated that his “ministry had no intention to compare the number of the signers to that of the UDD but to tell them of correct procedures regarding a petition to His Majesty the King.”

PPT finds it difficult to believe these ministers when they make such ludicrous claims about voluntary signing. The numbers claimed are also questionable. Could it be true that the governors, district chiefs, kamnan and village heads have really collected 5 million signatures in a week?

More of the minister’s non-pressure is applied by his statement that he had “ordered the permanent secretary for interior to put the names on the websites of every provinces and the Interior Ministry…”. Why would the government want to do this if it is not pressuring and not comparing?


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