Yingluck Signals A Retreat On Blanket Amnesty

(5 November) A day after thousands of protesters took to the streets of Bangkok, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced that the government will not pursue the controversial ?blanket amnesty? should the Senate vote to reject it.

Her speech came at a time when the sentiment against the government-sponsored ?amnesty for all? plan is increasingly evident in much of the Thai public. 
 
Apart from the anti-government factions who see the bill as an attempt to whitewash the wrongdoing of Ms. Yingluck′s brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, the opposition to the amnesty draft also comes from the Redshirt allies of the government who argued that the bill would dissolve the legal responsibility of the former government who authorised the 2010 military crackdown against the Redshirts protesters.
 
In a live television broadcast from Government House earlier today, Ms. Yingluck began her speech by repeating her defence for the blanket amnesty, insisting that it is a part of the government′s effort to bring about the "reconciliation" for the country.
 
The Prime Minister also stressed that the Parliamentary approval of the bill is perfectly within the boundary of the laws. 
 
However, Ms. Yingluck noted that the amnesty plan has caused debate and criticism from members of the public, and is slated to be decided by the Senate in the near future. 
 
"Therefore, I would like to suggest the Senate … to fully employ their judgement on the basis of the reconcilation," Ms. Yingluck said.
 
She added that the Members of the Parliament who had voted on the amnesty draft would accept any decision of the Senate, even if the Upper House votes to reject the proposed amnesty for good.
 
"They will accept that decision for the sake of the reconciliation of the country," said the Prime Minister. 
 
By implying that the Pheu Thai-dominated Parliament would not contest the Senate′s rejection of the blanket amnesty, Ms. Yingluck could be sending a signal that the government has abandoned its attempt to pursue the amnesty plan, our correspondent reported. 
 
There is also a very slim chance that the Senate would approve the amnesty-for-all draft; half of the Senate are appointed, and many of the appointed Senators have been openly hostile to the elected government of Ms. Yingluck.
 
One such appointed Senate, Mr. Pichet Sunthornpipit, told Khaosod that he, for one, would definitely reject the revised version of the bill, citing his belief that the draft has breached proper Parliamentary procedures.
 
"Although I disagree with the original draft submitted by [Pheu Thai MP] Worachai Hema, I sympathised with the bill′s intention to help only the ordinary citizens who have been affected by the political crisis," Mr. Pichet said, "But the draft has been greatly distorted by the House Committee. It clearly shows the real intention [of the government]"
 
Ms. Yingluck′s statement also appears to echo the suggestion made by former Deputy Prime Minister Weerapong Ramangkul who told Khaosod yesterday that the government should surrender the effort to enact the amnesty-for-all by convincing the Senate to vote against it, and accept its decision.
 
The government can declare its support for the original amnesty plan proposed by Mr. Worachai afterwards, Mr. Weerapong suggested.
 

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