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A Week in Review: September 11-17, 2010

Red Herring, anyone?

Newin Chidchob managed to single-handedly achieve national reconciliation for Thailand last week? Find out how he did it here…

On Sunday last week, Phuea Thai spokesperson Prompong Nopparit denied that his party’s de facto leader Thaksin Shinawatra was involved in the current restructuring of Phuea Thai. Prompong also dismissed suggestions that the fugitive former prime minister was in any way influencing the choice of Phuea Thai’s new figurehead leader.

On Monday last week, Phuea Thai MP Pracha Prasobdee admitted that a group of Phuea Thai MPs had recently travelled to Russia to meet with Thaksin, who had informed them that he wanted Yongyuth to be re-elected as Phuea Thai’s figurehead leader.

On Tuesday last week, Phuea Thai held a general assembly at which its members voted on a new figurehead leader. Having got rid of Yongyuth Wichaidit because many Phuea Thai MPs felt that he lacked direction and was not strong enough to lead them into the upcoming election, Phuea Thai members voted on his replacement. With an overwhelming majority of 267-6, the new figurehead leader of Phuea Thai to replace the ousted Yongyuth Wichaidit is Yongyuth Wichaidit.

Phuea Thai spokesperson Prompong Nopparit was also re-elected, although rumours that he denied his own re-election have not been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Bhum Jai Thai proposed a bill to pardon all political protesters under an amnesty law. According to Bhum Jai Thai de facto leader Newin Chidchob, the law would pardon all innocent protesters from both the yellow shirts (PAD) and the red shirts (UDD) as well as all government security personnel of all ranks. However, it would not cover protest leaders or those charged with committing acts of violence.

Despite Bhum Jai Thai touting the bill as being aimed at promoting national reconciliation, it was quickly vetoed by the government with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva suggesting it was not part of its reconciliation process and that it would merely serve to encourage further protests. Deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban also added that it would only help those who had broken the law and further undermine the rule of law.

Bhum Jai Thai’s government coalition partner, the Chart Thai Pattana party also poured cold water on the bill by stating through Sanan Kachornprasart that there was no reason to provide an amnesty to those who had committed politically motivated violence.

The yellow shirts quickly added their opposition to the bill when PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katsila said that PAD members were happy to take their chances in court. He also added that he felt Bhum Jai Thai had a hidden agenda in proposing the bill.

The hidden agenda theme was echoed by Phuea Thai deputy leader Plodrasop Surasawadee, who indicated that Newin was trying to use the bill to cover something up.

Even the red shirts opposed the bill although, as usual, UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan’s reasoning defied logic. Despite the red shirts’ reign of violence, terror, intimidation and destruction, Jatuporn stated that the amnesty bill would not benefit him or the other red shirts as they had ‘done nothing wrong’.

On Thursday, the bill was finally rejected, although it had in its own bizarre way achieved the impossible. For once, the government, its coalition partners, the yellow shirts, the opposition Phuea Thai party and the red shirts were united in agreement.

Although the feeling quickly passed and was missed by many, Newin briefly achieved national reconciliation last week. There’s nothing like a common enemy to help people reconcile their differences and bring them closer together…

Paul Snowdon – September 18, 2010

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