By Pimnara Pradubwit,
Chamlong and Sondhi to appear on TV tonight to discuss group's future plans
Anti-government group the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is expected to announce a change in its stance today after core leaders Maj-General Chamlong Srimuang and media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul said the movement had reached a historic turning point.
Chamlong and Sondhi have both been keeping low profiles recently, citing their bail conditions in political cases, while other anti-government groups such as the white-mask movement, the multi-coloured shirts and the People’s Army have been playing a major role in carrying out anti-government campaigns.
Their announcement comes after Sondhi called on the Democrats to quit their parliamentary posts and join them in street rallies and anti-government campaigns. Democrats Kalaya Sophonpanich and Nipit Intarasom-bat recently held talks with the PAD about joining political forces.
Chamlong said that in light of the current constitutional crisis, he would appear with Sondhi at 8pm today on his show broadcast on ASTV to announce their position. Sondhi said they would discuss important issues on the show that would focus on the group’s initial stance, changes that they had planned, and the position of the group following those changes.
“Normally Chamlong would go to bed at 8pm, but [today] he will appear with me on the show, saying there is a big issue [to discuss],’’ Sondhi said.
PAD spokesman Parnthep Pour-pongpan posted a video clip of Sondhi and Chamlong’s statement via the PAD Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Democrat MP Suthep Thaugsuban has said he is ready to quit as MP so he can join anti-government rallies. However, for the time being Suthep said he would remain in Parliament to fight legislation put forward by the government.
He said the government had pushed to pass legislation that was dangerous for the nation, in particular, the charter amendment on the election of senators. So, he was prepared to stay put and put up a tough fight in Parliament.
“People may think this issue is trivial, but if all Senators are elected they would come under the influence of politicians who would be able to control the appointment of independent agencies, and that does not bode well for the country, as has been proved in the past,” he said.
Historian and former rector of Thammasat University Charnvit Kasetsiri posted an open letter on Facebook to Chuan Leekpai, Democrat chief adviser and one of the university’s council members, quoting Pridi Banomyong – statesman and founder of Thammasat University – that an unruly and immoral democracy could result in anarchy. He said PAD’s and other’s recent political activities to topple former PM Thaksin Shinawatra were all “disruptive attempts”, which could lead to anarchy and civil war.
PM’s Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn said yesterday that the PAD, the Democrats and the Group of 40 senators had turned down an invitation to join in the political reform talks to be held at Government House tomorrow. However, he still hoped over half of the 70 invitees would join.
The appointed senators invited to join the reform talks declined, saying they had no confidence in the council as it was just an advisory body to the ruling Pheu Thai Party. But elected senators who were invited gave more positive responses.
Elected senators – Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij; Krich Atitkaew; Prawat Thongsomboon; Prasit Pothasuthon; and Prasert Prakoonsuksapan – were invited to join the political-reform council’s first meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra tomorrow.
However, the appointed senators, currently at loggerheads with the government over moves to get all senators elected, turned down the invite.
Chon Buri Senator Surachai Chaitrakulthong, the Senate whip’s secretary, said Nikom actually ordered Senate whips to ask the government to select appointed senators it would like to invite to join the council.