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Chalerm vows Thaksin will be home this year

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351717/chalerm-vows-thaksin-will-be-home-this-year

Behead me if he isn’t, deputy PM tells reds

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has vowed to bring ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra home a free man before the New Year.

Addressing a red-shirt rally in Udon Thani on Friday, Mr Chalerm defended his reconciliation bill which he hopes will be instrumental in bringing the deposed premier home.

“If I fail [to bring Thaksin home] I’ll accept sole responsibility. You can behead me,” he told the gathering.

If opponents come out on the streets to resist his draft bill, red shirts should stay in their respective provinces and not march on Bangkok to mount a counter-rally, he said.

Mr Chalerm said he alone had decided to remove Section 5 of his bill, which concerned financial compensation for people affected by the actions of the state. Any finance-related bill requires the prime minister to endorse it first.

Chalerm: Behead me if he isn’t be home this year.

His reconciliation draft bill was fair to everyone, he said, denying it was meant to directly benefit Thaksin.

The bill is not on parliament’s agenda for its first reading.

Somkid Cheukong, a Pheu Thai MP for Ubon Ratchathani, said the Chalerm bill should not be moved up the agenda as it would touch off social conflict.

Meanwhile, the Pheu Thai Party has denied Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was behind the push for legislation to exonerate political offenders.

The ruling party’s deputy spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat said yesterday neither the premier nor the government was responsible for the bills.

She was referring to the reconciliation bill sponsored Mr Chalerm, which has not entered parliament, and the amnesty bill proposed by Samut Prakan Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema.

The Worachai bill is at the top of the parliamentary agenda, awaiting a first reading debate.

Lt Sunisa said the only piece of legislation Ms Yingluck will forward to parliament on Wednesday is the 2014 Budget Bill.

She claimed the opposition Democrat Party has tried to mislead the public by suggesting Ms Yingluck and the government were actually behind the push for the Chalerm and the Worachai bills. Lt Sunisa said the two bills are sponsored by politicians, and the executive branch had nothing to do with them.

The Democrats earlier called on Ms Yingluck to clarify her stance on the reconciliation and amnesty bills.

Sathit Pitutecha, Democrat MP for Rayong, said the bills could whitewash the crimes of Thaksin, Ms Yingluck’s elder brother, and seek to return 46 billion baht in seized assets to him.

He said even though Mr Chalerm had decided to remove Section 5 of his bill, there are still problems with other parts of the bill.

Lt Sunisa also said the Worachai and Chalerm bills could not be combined at the scrutiny stage because their contents are different.

The Chalerm bill offers a blanket amnesty to those involved in political unrest, from the 2006 military coup to the 2010 clashes between the red shirts and the military at Ratchaprasong intersection.

The Worachai bill seeks to offer amnesty to people being investigated for, or convicted of crimes related to political violence. However, it will not cover protest leaders or those who ordered the use of force to quell the protests.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said yesterday he believed Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party were more inclined to support the Chalerm bill as the deposed premier stands to gain a lot more from it than he would from the Worachai bill.

Creating a new convention hub

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351721/creating-a-new-convention-hub

ABOUT Politics

Plodprasop ignores his critics to promote Chiang Mai as a major meeting venue – The plight of Veera Somkwamkid, languishing in a Cambodian jail, has slipped from public view – Signs that Pheu Thai is making inroads into the Democrats’ stronghold were evident at last Sunday’s rally

Published: 25 May 2013 at 00.00

The water summit in Chiang Mai gave Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi a chance to raise his public profile as well as a reason to promote the province as a convention hub.

Plodprasop: Working for the North

The spectacle of a play in which Mr Plodprasop starred as the founder of the ancient Lanna kingdom provided what government supporters called the icing on the cake for the weekend summit.

The drama was staged before summit participants amid the ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, and was broadcast live on national television, showering Mr Plodprasop with publicity that drew attention away from the substance of the meeting, according to critics.

Before Mr Plodprasop went on stage, he had been locked in a bitter dispute with anti-dam advocates and non-governmental organisations over the design and effects of the mega-water management project.

His critics said Mr Plodprasop, as the chief organiser of the summit, looked to enjoy the fanfare of the play. Wiang Kum Kam, which gave an exotic backdrop for the drama, added extra sheen to Chiang Mai’s tourism appeal.

Chiang Mai now rivals other key provinces as a centre for Mice (meetings, incentives. conventions, exhibitions), with the summit venue at the Chiang Mai International Convention Centre lending a solid footing to ambitious promotion of the province.

A source close to provincial authorities says the convention centre and the Chiang Mai Night Safari will be brought under the management of Pingkanakorn Office, a soon-to-be-established public organisation to design and execute policies and supervise Mice activities in Chiang Mai.

Mr Plodprasop will be in charge of the agency, which eventually will also supervise the prestigious Royal Flora Ratchaphruek in Chiang Mai’s Mae Hia district.

The office will be up and running as soon as it is given the green light from the Council of State, the government’s legal arm.

The source said Mr Plodprasop wanted to do Chiang Mai justice as a potential Mice venue and decided to host the water summit at the Chiang Mai convention centre. The centre has been booked for important upcoming events, including a rice meeting arranged by the Commerce Ministry and the World Bank Expo.

The Pingkanakorn Office and the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau are set to join hands in sponsoring a road show overseas to promote Mice in Chiang Mai.

The source said Mr Plodprasop is painting a fancy vision of Chiang Mai as a Mice hub as the Pingkanakorn Office will need to work hard to find enough business to fulfil and justify the objectives for it to be set up in the first place.

Without adequate projects to keep the office’s staff fully employed, it could come under fire for not being worthy of the investment.

The source said there is nothing worse than to watch large infrastructure facilities end up as white elephants. As for the Chiang Mai convention centre, the fear is that it could end up as a venue for flea market vendors if there are insufficient bookings for international conventions.

The forgotten man of Thailand

Activist Veera Somkwamkid could be forgiven for thinking he is the forgotten man as no political party seems interested in making a serious effort to get him released from Prey Sar prison in Cambodia, where he has been for more than two years.

The last time the media caught a glimpse of Veera was when his fellow activist Ratree Pipattanapaiboon was released from the Cambodian prison on Feb 8. There have been hardly any news reports about him as he continues to serve his prison term.

Veera: Still manages to joke

The loss of freedom was the price the activist accepted he would have to pay for his fight to protect national territory, according to his sympathisers.

On Dec 29, 2010, he and Ms Ratree, accompanied by a Democrat politician, went to see alleged land encroachment by Cambodian soldiers in Khok Sung district of Sa Kaeo province. Cambodian soldiers arrested them and four other Thais with them.

Only his family members and close friends have taken the opportunity to visit him in prison, going there about once a month on average.

There have been few non-family visitors. They usually bring him food and medication for skin infections contracted during his jail time.

Cambodian authorities ban reporters and others from taking photographs of Prey Sar prison.

A source close to his family said Veera has told visitors that many Cambodian inmates of the prison suffer from skin diseases and the medication he receives is shared with them.

Each visit lasts half an hour. His visitors say Veera is often in the mood to joke, although he appears less than upbeat.

”I want to go home. If you write, please tell the Thai people that the person who is fighting [to protect the nation] has been wasting his time in here for a long while,” Veera was quoted by the source as saying.

Veera is turning into a forgotten hero, said one of his visitors, who declined to be named.

Veera has been described by his supporters as a victim of circumstance and people in some political quarters would rather see him locked away than let him dig up evidence of graft against certain politicians.

The source said Veera wants to serve the rest of his sentence in a prison in Thailand. It costs his family and friends a lot of money to travel to Cambodia to see him and to lobby for his transfer to a Thai prison.

In one of the visits, Veera raised his fist over his head as a gesture of his determination not to give up.

Red shirts begin to rise in South

Rallies by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) never fail to pull big crowds. Busloads of red shirts largely come from the North and the Northeast, which are the ruling Pheu Thai Party’s home bases, plus hard-liners from Pathum Thani.

Even though these faithful make up enough people to give UDD events a full house and keep Pheu Thai in government, the political grouping feels it could do with a few more red shirts from the southern region, the traditional stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party.

Prompong: UDD making southern inroads

The presence of southern residents at last Sunday’s rally would greatly satisfy the UDD, leading group figures say.

After all, core red-shirt leaders Nattawut Saikuar, Veerakarn Musikhapong, Jatuporn Prompan and Viputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, UDD chair Tida Tawornseth and Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit are all from the southern region that is considered to be off-limits to the red-shirt movement and Pheu Thai.

Even before the previous general election, the UDD had been trying to establish a foothold in the region by setting up red-shirt villages and organising activities in the provinces of red-shirt leaders such as Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla to raise the group’s profile.

It has taken some time, but the red shirts seem to be cutting into the Democrats’ political stronghold.

The red-shirt gathering at Ratchaprasong intersection last Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of the 2010 violent clashes marked the first time that red shirts from the South appeared on the UDD stage.

Mr Prompong, who hails from Phangnga, claimed as many as 64 buses transported red shirts from the South, but political observers were sceptical and believe the Pheu Thai spokesman was exaggerating.

Regardless of the actual number, the Sunday rally made history. It not only saw the largest number of southern residents at a red-shirt gathering but local red-shirt leaders from 14 southern provinces were asked to go on stage and address the demonstrators.

Mr Viputhalaeng described it as the rise of the southern people.

Even though the number of red shirts at Sunday’s rally was still relatively low, it was good enough for the UDD, whose political activities have been gaining traction, a source in the movement said.

If it can be translated into more votes, that is even better, the source said. When the next general election comes about, it could be the first time that the Democrats, who are struggling with major internal reforms, will have to make some effort to protect their home turf.

Red-shirts converging in Udon Thani

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351665/bring-thaksin-home-rally-in-udon-thani

Published: 24 May 2013 at 16.23

Red-shirt supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra from various northeastern provinces have begun converging on Thung Srimuang open ground in Muang district of Udon Thani province for a “bring Thaksin home” rally, reports said.

A large stage has been erected at Thung Srimuang.  Police used mine detectors to scour the area around the stage and the open ground for bombs.

About 1,000 police have been deployed to provide security.

Kwanchai Praipana, leader of Udon Thani red-shirts, went up on the stage and vowed the make the rally the largest ever to demand the government bring fugitive Thaksin home from self-exile abroad.

He claimed about 100,000 people would attend the rally.

Pheu Thai MPs in the Northeast have been taking turns to speak on the stage.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung was scheduled to appear on the stage at 6pm to explain his reconciliation bill, filed with the House of Representatives yesterday by Pheu Thai MPs.

Panel sets out pact changes

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351569/panel-sets-out-pact-changes

Published: 24 May 2013 at 00.00

The House committee vetting proposed changes to Section 190 of the constitution has decided that only three types of government agreements signed with other countries will need parliamentary approval in future.

In its current version, Section 190 requires all deals involving issues of sovereignty to be approved by parliament.

The panel yesterday discussed the matter, agreeing to enhance clarity and assigning a more specific scope to the section.

The three types of international pacts which would need House approval are agreements that deal with territorial changes, those that require a new law to have them invoked, and free trade agreements (FTAs).

Under the draft amendment, authorities in charge of an FTA must submit the negotiating framework to parliament for approval before they can draft an FTA pact, which would also need to be submitted for scrutiny.

This requirement does not apply to the other two types of international deals.

The panel also agreed that an organic law of the new version of Section 190 of the charter must be drafted and passed within a year after the endorsed amendments to Section 190 come into effect.

Chalerm unity bill heads to parliament

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351570/chalerm-unity-bill-heads-to-parliament

POLITICS

MPs to consider merger with Worachai proposal

Published: 24 May 2013 at 00.00

Pheu Thai MP for Yasothon Piraphan Palusuk yesterday submitted Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung’s reconciliation bill to parliament.

Pheu Thai Party MP for Yasothon, Piraphan Palusuk, right, hands the reconciliation bill proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung to Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol yesterday. A total of 163 party MPs signed in support of the bill. CHANAT KATANYU

Mr Piraphan, chief of the party’s legal team, accompanied by a number of party MPs, handed the bill over to Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol.

A total of 163 Pheu Thai MPs have signed in support of the bill seeking a blanket amnesty for people involved in past political violence.

Mr Piraphan said the bill initiated by Mr Chalerm would grant an amnesty to all people involved in political offences from 2006 to the present time, in line with the government’s policy of national reconciliation and restoring unity.

The bill originally had six sections.

However, Section 5, concerning compensation for those affected by political unrest, had been expunged because it concerned financial matters which would require Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s endorsement.

Mr Piraphan said the main thrust of the bill is outlined in Section 3, which proposes to clear all political offenders from 2006 onwards of any wrongdoing.

Political offenders, be they those already convicted by the courts, those being investigated, those whose prosecution is pending, or those charged for expressing political opinions, would be exonerated.

“As for Section 4, which many people claim is designed to return 46 billion baht in assets seized from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the court

[the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions] has already issued an order to confiscate it,” he said.

The only way to return the money is by passing a finance-related bill, Mr Piraphan said.

Mr Charoen said Mr Chalerm’s draft legislation would certainly not be proposed for deliberation during the extraordinary session of parliament from next Wednesday to Friday to deliberate the 2014 Budget Bill.

It would be up to a House meeting to decide whether it would be moved up for consideration along with other reconciliation bills filed earlier, he said.

Mr Piraphan admitted Thaksin was the person who had been most affected by the past political unrest following his ouster in the 2006 coup.

Mr Piraphan insisted Pheu Thai MPs will push ahead with the bill to help Thaksin.

However, he said the Chalerm bill may not be included in the House agenda when parliament reconvenes on Aug 1.

He said he will discuss with other party MPs whether to incorporate the Chalerm bill into the amnesty bill proposed by Samut Prakan MP Worachai Hema, which is currently at the top of the House agenda waiting to clear its first reading.

Kwanchai Praipana, leader of the red shirts in Udon Thani, yesterday pledged his full support for the Chalerm bill to bring Thaksin home a free man.

Thaksin passport details still unclear

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351546/thaksin-passport-details-still-unclear

Published: 23 May 2013 at 21.58

The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday said it had yet to receive a statement from Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana who has been assigned by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to explain the return of an ordinary Thai passport to her fugitive brother Thaksin.

In March, Ms Yingluck wrote to the Ombudsman Office asking for another 30 days to clarify the issue after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted it would not review its decision to issue the passport to Thaksin as suggested by the agency.

Ombudsman Office deputy secretary-general and spokesman Raksagecha Chaechai said the prime minister, in a letter, noted she had assigned Mr Pongthep to explain the matter on her behalf.

The 30-day deadline ended on April 15 but the office had yet to hear any explanation from Mr Pongthep, he said.

“The Ombudsman Office is due to report the issue at a meeting of ombudsmen on May 28 when they will consider how to proceed with it,” Mr Raksagecha said.

“The Ombudsman Office can write to Mr Pongthep to tell him to explain the passport decision within 15 days. If he fails to do so, the ombudsmen can report to the House of Representatives to acknowledge [the refusal] and announce it to the general public.”

Dems demand B2trln project details

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351513/dems-threaten-to-take-loans-bill-to-constitution-court

Published: 23 May 2013 at 16.16

Democrat Party MPs have threatened to withdraw from the House committee scrutinising the 2.2 trillion baht loans bill and seek a Constitution Court ruling on its legality if by June 3 the government does not provide details of the various projects to be carried out with the loans.

The threat was made on Thursday by Democrat MPs Korn Chatikavanij, Samart Ratchapolsitte and Atthawich Suwanpakdi, who are members of the opposition minority in the scrutiny committee.

Mr Korn said the minority in the committee had asked for details of various projects to be implemented by the government with the money from the 2.2 trillion baht loans, but had received no response.

He said the minority members agreed in principle to support investment in transport infrastructure development to reduce business production costs.

But they discovered that the government was not ready to implement many of the projects mentioned in the loans bill.

Some projects could be done easily with allocations from the normal annual budget, without having to be in the 2.2 trillion baht loans bill.

“If by June 3 government agencies concerned do not provide necessary details of the projects mentioned in the bill, Democrat members of the minority will withdraw from the scrutiny committee and will later ask the Constitution Court to rule on the constitutionality of the bill,” Mr Korn said.

Mr Korn said the government should not seek to borrow the money if it had no clear, detailed plan on how to spend it. He feared the loan money could be diverted and used for projects not mentioned in the legislation.

Mr Samart said he felt the government had intentionally hidden details of the high-speed train projects, electric train projects, and particularly the Orange Line (Taling Chan-Min Buri), which involves a lot of land expropriation, and the dual rail tracks projects.

He said the cost of the projects, which the government appeared not ready to carry out, totalled  about 1.5 trillion baht.

Chalerm’s bill filed by Pheu Thai MPs

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351485/163-mps-sign-in-support-of-chalerm-blanket-amnesty-bill

Published: 23 May 2013 at 12.47

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung’s reconciliation bill seeking a blanket amnesty for people involved in past political unrest has been filed with the House of Representatives.

The bill, signed by 163 Pheu Thai MPs, was submitted through Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol by Yasothon MP Pirapan Palusuk, chief of the party’s legal team, and a number of party MPs.

Mr Pirapan said the bill, initiated by Mr Chalerm, would grant amnesty to all people involved in political offences from 2006 to the present time, in line with the government’s policy of national reconciliation and restoring unity.

The bill originally had six sections. However, Section 5 concerning compensation for those affected by the political unrest had been taken out because it concerned financial matters which would require Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s endorsement.

Mr Pirapan said the gist of the bill is outlined in Section 3, which proposes to clear all political offenders from 2006 to the present time of wrongdoing. Political offenders, be they those already convicted by the courts, those being investigated, or those pending prosecution, and those charged for expressing political opinions, would be exonerated.

“As for Section 4, which many people claim is designed to return the 46 million baht seized from former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the court (Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions) has already issued an order to confiscate it. The only way to return the money is by passing a budget-related bill,” Mr Pirapan said.

Mr Charoen said Mr Chalerm’s draft legislation would certainly not be proposed for deliberation during the extraordinary session of parliament on May 29-31 to deliberate the 2014 Budget Bill.

It was for a House meeting to decide whether it would be moved up for consideration along with other reconciliation bills that had been filed earlier, he said.

Chalerm requests review of top court’s role

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351393/chalerm-requests-review-of-top-court-role

Published: 23 May 2013 at 00.00

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has asked the top brass at the Justice Ministry to study the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, a ministry source says.

He made his request yesterday at a meeting with Justice Minister Pracha Promnok and the ministry’s permanent secretary Kittipong Kittayarak.

The move came after Mr Chalerm suggested at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting that possible civil and political rights violations within the court be included in a report sent to the UN Human Rights Commission on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A panel to review the report, chaired by Mr Chalerm, will hold its first meeting on Wednesday. According to the source, it may issue some amendments to the laws related to the court.

In 2008, the court sentenced ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra to two years in jail over the Ratchadapisek land deal of his ex-wife Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra.

PM urged to take amnesty stance

Published พฤษภาคม 25, 2013 by SoClaimon

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/351391/pm-urged-to-take-amnesty-stance

POLITICS

Published: 23 May 2013 at 00.00

The Democrat Party has called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to clarify her stance on the reconciliation and amnesty bills.

Democrat MP for Rayong Sathit Pitutecha yesterday handed a letter making the demand to the public service centre at the Prime Minister’s permanent secretary office at Government House.

Deputy secretary-general to the prime minister Suporn Atthakorn received the letter on Ms Yingluck’s behalf.

Mr Sathit said the move was intended to push Ms Yingluck into taking clear positions on the amnesty bill proposed by Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema, and the reconciliation bill proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.

He said the bills could whitewash the crimes of deposed former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and seek to return 46 billion baht in seized assets to him.

Mr Sathit said that even though Mr Chalerm had decided to remove Section 5 of his bill, which concerned financial compensation for people affected by the actions of the state, there are still problems with other parts of the bill.

Section 4 seeks to nullify all convictions and charges brought against anyone by the coup-appointed Assets Scrutiny Committee or the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions, he said.

Mr Chalerm had Section 5 removed to avoid Ms Yingluck having to endorse it.

That section could have made the bill a piece of financial legislation, requiring the prime minister’s endorsement before it is forwarded to parliament.

In that case, if parliament did not endorse the bill, the prime minister and her entire cabinet would have to take responsibility by resigning.

But critics claim Section 4 could also be interpreted as being finance-related, as it could lead to the return of Thaksin’s seized assets.

Mr Sathit said if Ms Yingluck wants to restore peace and harmony to the country, she must not push ahead with the bills.

Mr Chalerm’s bill seeks to grant a blanket amnesty to everyone involved in political unrest, from the 2006 military coup to the 2010 crackdown on the red shirts at Ratchaprasong intersection.

The amnesty would cover state authorities responsible for the crackdown on protesters. The Worachai bill seeks to grant an amnesty to people convicted of crimes related to political violence but will not cover Thaksin, protest leaders or those who ordered the use of force to quell the protests.

Mr Chalerm said yesterday he was not upset with the Pheu Thai Party’s resolution to support the Worachai bill.

The Worachai bill has now been moved up to the top of the agenda pending consideration during the next parliamentary session in August.

Mr Chalerm said he was ready to support the party resolution and insisted there was no conflict among party members.

He has authorised Yasothon MP Piraphan Palusuk, the party’s legal adviser, to decide whether to submit his bill to parliament.

Mr Chalerm said that at least he had kept his promise that he would do everything in his power to bring Thaksin back to Thailand.

He insisted Section 5 of his proposed bill was not finance-related and there was no need for the prime minister to be quizzed on the issue as the bill was submitted on the party’s behalf, not by the government.

Democrat Party list-MP and opposition whip chief Jurin Laksanavisit yesterday criticised Ms Yingluck for trying to distance herself from the two bills by saying it was the task of parliament to handle the bills, not the government.

Mr Jurin said Section 4 of Mr Chalerm’s bill was still finance-related as it would lead to the return of seized assets to Thaksin.

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