A whiff of rotting fish?

2 02 2013

It seems that  some of the op-ed writers at the Bangkok Post have suddenly developed a red sheen in their usual political color. Or have they? A couple of days ago we recounted how Voranai Vanijaka had decided that there are real red shirts and fake red shirts and that the real red shirts were the ones demanding that the government do something radical on amnesty and lese majeste and forget that the tanks and protests that the opponents of the government have promised in such circumstances.All imprisoned

In another op-ed, the normally yellow-garbed Veera Prateepchaikul takes a similar line, telling the red shirts demanding amnesty that those locked up “are low-value pawns on a political chess board, and therefore expendable.” Veera is suddenly demanding that the red shirt political prisoners be released and the government do something, anything for them.

Those who have followed the op-eds by Voranai and Veera might smell sardines. Neither have been supportive of anything red shirt actions in the past. Are they simply working on a broader royalist strategy that seeks to provoke missteps by the Yingluck Shinawatra government that allows mobilization by its opponents or that seeks to split red shirts from the government?

Shouldn’t PPT be pleased when Veera claims: “It should not be surprising that the demand for amnesty for jailed red-shirt protesters has been given the cold shoulder by both the government and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, because the government’s political stability is deemed more important than the plight of the prisoners”? After all, PPT has been writing of the Thaksin-Yingluck strategy of political retreat and timidity for some time.

The problem is that Veera has not been a proponent for the release of political prisoners in the past. Why the sudden change? Part of it has to do with the Democrat Party, facing a tough gubernatorial electoral race in Bangkok now proclaims that it has “no objection to it so long as the amnesty is limited only to people charged with defying the emergency decree, not people on criminal charges.” That the Democrat Party is suddenly in favor of releasing some of those its government happily locked up on spurious charges has a fishy whiff to it. Another problem is related to this. All red shirt groups, including the official UDD are proposing an amnesty for all political prisoners.

In the end, the sudden claims to support for the release of political prisoners put in jail by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government smells of rotting fish when those making the call are also those who cheered their arrests.

That said, and the political risks known, the Yingluck government cannot preside over jails that include political prisoners. Yes, the flow of political prisoners to the jails stopped with the ousting of Abhisit’s lot and many prisoners were bailed through the government’s actions. However, the government must continue the emptying of the jails of every single political prisoner, including those held under the odious lese majeste law.



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