In our last post we commented on the Democrat Party’s apparent incapacity for change. In this post, we ask if the governing Puea Thai Party can change. Can it be diverted from a path that will damage the party? Can it reduce its apparent capacity for self-harm?
Both the official red shirt leadership and rank-and-file red shirts seem united in their opposition to the nonsensical changes proposed for the amnesty law, although their opposition may focus on slightly different aspects of the bill.
At the Bangkok Post, there is a useful report of the Red Sunday Group, which mobilized more than 200 people on Sunday at Rajaprasong to oppose the government’s amnesty proposal.
Red Sunday “voiced particular opposition to the amnesty for Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Surat Thani Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban…”.
Sombat Boonngamanong “said the party’s move to provide a wholesale amnesty was beyond his understanding and ran against the red shirts’ stance.” He made an excellent point:
“Thaksin and other party leaders fail to explain to their supporters what is really behind this compromise deal. They must tell us. Politics can no longer be kept exclusive and dictated by back-door negotiators,” Mr Sombat said.
Sombat urged red shirts to rally: “More people will come out on the street if the party defies the will of the red shirts who shed blood and tears to put it into power…”.
Historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul claimed that “red shirts felt cheated as they had shown full support for the Worachai [Hema amnesty] bill which was later changed.”
Former lese majeste convict Suchart Nakbangsai demanded that “lese majeste offenders should also be included in the deal.”
Different ideas, but the same message: this amnesty is a lose-lose situation for the Puea Thai Party. It risks losing the support of red shirts and it will see demonstrations by the broader opposition of anti-Thaksin Shinawatra yellow shirts.
The way out is for Thaksin to disown the amended proposal and remember his promise to red shirts on the Worachai proposal. A return to that amnesty draft will preserve the Puea Thai Party’s electoral base.
Can Thaksin and the party display collective good sense and political savvy?