(16 November) The anti-government protests have intensified their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra by calling for a mass petition to remove the 310 MPs who voted for the controversial amnesty bill.
The attempt of Pheu Thai Party to push for ?blanket amnesty? has angered many critics of the government as the bill would dissolve corruption convictions of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra and eventually allow him to return to power in Thailand. Mr. Thaksin is deeply despised by the anti-government protesters, who view him as a corrupt puppet who uses his sister as a proxy to retain power in Thailand.
With the exception of a handful MPs who abstained, a vast majority of Pheu Thai Party voted for the draft, only to hurriedly withdraw it once the scale of public hostility against the plan became clear. However, former Democrat MPs who are leading the protests at Ratchadamnoen Avenue argue that the government would stealthily pursue the bill later on.
The protests' de facto leader, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, yesterday called for an "escalation" of their campaign to oust the government, urging the Thais to sign petition to remove the MPs who voted for the ?blanket amnesty? and to boycott all products and services related to "Thaksin′s Regime".
He also encouraged all bureaucrats to go on a nationwide strike to pressure the government into resignation.
In a fiery speech, Mr. Suthep compared Mr. Thaksin′s administration to Adolf Hitler′s subversion of the German Reichstag.
"Thaksin′s Regime has destroyed morality and goodness," said Mr. Suthep, "It turns the parliamentary system into a tyrannical Parliament, just like the German Parliament under Hitler, which led to the world war that killed millions of people".
The former Democrat MP insisted that the protesters will achieve "victory" within this month – if a million souls have answered his call and joined the rally at Ratchadamnoen Avenue.
Earlier this morning, tables have set up in the protesters? encampment to collect the signatures needed for removal of 310 MPs. Banners near the tables read, "Stop Puppet Parliament!".
Few people showed up to sign the petition throughout the morning, our correspondent reported, but more people are expected to file their signatures this evening, the usual peak time of the protests.
Meanwhile, government officials continued to portray the protests at Ratchadamnoen Avenuen as a masked conspiracy to cause chaos in Bangkok in order to overthrow the government. Mr. Suphon Attawong, deputy secretary of the Prime Minister, for instance, claimed a group of powerful figures are secretly funding the protests.
He said he has asked the Division of Special Investigation (DSI) to investigate the group and its alleged money channel. Mr. Suphon added he is also discussing with Anti-Money Laundry Office (AMLO) for the possibility of seizing these alleged funds on the ground that they support "illegal" methods to overthrow a democratically-elected government.
Furthermore, there are strong evidences that a number of militants armed with sniper rifles and automatic weapons has been planted inside the protest campsite, awaiting the protest leaders? signal to sow chaos, according to Mr. Suphon.
Lt.Gen. Paradorn Pattanabutr, director of National Security Council, also alleged that the protesters have been infiltrated by "hardcore radicals" who are intent on provoking violence to hurt the legitimacy of the government.
However, Lt.Gen. Paradorn said there have been no arrests of these armed individuals yet.
For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]
You can also find Khaosod English on Twitter and Facebook