The compensation question

16 08 2011

Achara Ashayagachat at the Bangkok Post has a very thoughtful story regarding red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan’s call for the new government to consider compensation of 10 million baht to each family of the 92 people killed during the clashes in April and May last year. Not surprisingly, the proposal has created considerable controversy.

PPT doesn’t intend to summarize the article. There’s plenty of room for debate on this topic and the comments made by still-grieving families seeking truth, justice and answers deserve attention and for the injured seeking proper and affordable care. However, we were somewhat taken aback by what some of the critics have said.

For example, retired Chulalongkorn University sociologist and director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the university, Surichai Wankaew, goes on what seems like a rant, saying “it is only appropriate for the legislative branch to be responsible for discussing reparations to victims. But it should not be left to only certain politicians, who might try to exploit the issue…”. He added that: “If we allow politicians to abuse the deaths issue [for their political gains], all of society will not feel that it shares the loss and concern [of the victims]…. The result is that the tragedies will become the issues of one group only, not a collective social pain. It might worsen the conflict between groups.”

Then he continued: “Baiting the [families of] red shirt victims with financial packages is a dangerous, misplaced and misled move…“. That might be true if it wasn’t for the fact that the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration has already had the Ministry of Social Development paying compensation.

The article states:

According to the Social Development Ministry, it has paid out 400,000 baht in reparations to each family of the 92 people killed during the April-May 2010 violence, for a total of 36.8 million baht. Each of four people who were physically disabled received 320,000 baht, while each of the 86 people seriously injured (requiring more than 20 days of hospitalisation) received 100,000 baht apiece. Each of the 599 people who were injured, but not seriously, received 60,000 baht compensation. The government also paid 984 people who sustained minor injuries 20,000 baht each. One special case requiring ongoing medication received cash assistance of 423,209 baht.

Fair-minded observers would look at this and see it as wholly unsatisfactory. It was a pittance compared with the compensation the Abhisit government handed out to businesses in the Rajaprasong area, which had reached 14 billion baht in May this year.

Where was Surichai when the previous government “baited” red shirts – in fact, the 92 dead figure includes officials killed in the period – with a pittance and left the families to carry huge bills for the deceased and injured? Did he complain then? Are far as we can tell he was silent. Is the suggestion that compensation to the families of the dead be increased by 25 times really as bad as Surichai suggests?

It seems that it is Surichai who is playing politics. After all, PPT has posted on the support Surichai gave to the Abhisit regime and his earlier support for the 2006 coup and his role as a military junta-appointed legislator. Surichai’s politics are again to the fore as he simply opposes any initiative that he considers “political.” That seems to mean anything from red shirts or pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties.

In another Post report, the new Defense Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa shows his age by immediately getting Jatuporn’s proposal wrong. The rport states:

In response to the demands of red shirt leader and Pheu Thai list MP Jatuporn Prompan that each family of red shirt demonstrators and security officers who were killed during political protests receive 10 million baht compensation from the government, Gen Yutthasak said if the government wanted to put in place a reconciliation process, it should award compensation to victims in all political camps, not only the red shirt movement.

As far as PPT can recall, Jatuporn was speaking about April and May 2010 and, as the quote makes crystal clear, he included security officers. So the only addition proposed by Yutthasak is for compensation for yellow shirts killed in political violence. This may have some merit. However, it means he’s talking about two (?) further deaths, one in Bangkok and the other in Chiang Mai (we exclude the car bomber who blew himself up). Correct us if we are wrong. There were many more injured in PAD events, including many police.

We have no idea what to do with the comment by a Democrat Party MP that the “red shirt movement should instead demand compensation from Thaksin Shinawatra, not the Yingluck administration.”



2 responses

17 08 2011
Jatuporn on lese majeste, bail and compensation | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] went on to comment on his compensation plan, saying that “Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had approved in principle the setting up of […]

29 10 2014
Fixing the rules | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] comment is from retired “academic” and yellow shirt activist Surichai Wankaew, said the 20 NRC members chosen “would help improve the political situation as they had been […]

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