Former lecturer 'laughs off' alledged bid to stir protests
FUGITIVE ACADEMIC Somsak Jeamteerasakul yesterday “laughed off” Panthongtae Shinawatra’s apparent move to stir protests over the impeachment of his aunt, former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Yingluck will be banned from politics for five years after the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted 190-18 on Friday to impeach her over her failure to stop corruption and losses in the scrapped rice-pledging scheme.
Somsak, a former Thammasat University lecturer, has been critical of the monarchy and has called for the removal of the lese majeste law.
He defied the summons and arrest warrants issued against him by the National Council for Peace and Order after the May 22 coup and fled the country. He has become active on Facebook since November last year.
On Instagram, Panthongtae seemingly called on people to fight for Yingluck, saying: “Are you ready, Thai people?” The post included a picture of a fist.
In response, Somsak posted sarcastically on Facebook that he could not help but burst out laughing.
“Now he is inciting people to get ready, but when the coup suppressed millions of people and rounded up uncountable number of people who sided with you and put them into jail, you didn’t care,” he wrote.
“You are angry now only because your family member was attacked, so you must instigate protests. My hat is off to you.
“This is very respectable. I am tired and in Thailand it is already late in the night. If I am in the mood, I will continue tomorrow. I cannot stop myself writing statements because it is really laughable.’’
NLA vice president Peerasak Porjit said the NLA voted on impeachment cases of key politicians in the previous government without any lobbying pressure. He challenged Yingluck to file the petition in the court if she felt the NLA decision was unfair.
He said he believed the impeachment of Yingluck could open the door to reconciliation.
Peerasak said if all political knots are settled early, the country can move towards reform and reconciliation.
Peerasak rejected Yingluck’s question over the timing of the Office of the Attorney-General’s decision to indict her on criminal charge over the rice pledging scheme shortly before the NLA called the vote, saying the assembly had scheduled the voting date weeks earlier.
Meanwhile Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he believed the NLA members voted as per law and justice. He said the assembly’s decision to spare former Senate speaker Nikom Wairatpanij and former House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont and impeach Yingluck showed that the assembly used their judgement and were not under lobbying pressure.
Abhisit said Yingluck was impeached because she failed to show up and answered queries from the assembly, which hinted a lack of respect on her part to the assembly and had led to negative public sentiment against her.
Abhisit said the NCPO should not stop Yingluck and her supporters from staging political moves against the NLA decision but at the same time Yingluck and her supporters should not instigate protests but must respect the NLA decision.
He said he accepted the NLA’s reason for sparing Nikom and Somsak on the grounds that the 2007 charter was already revoked.
People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) spokesman Akanat Promphan said he did not believe that the impeachment of Yingluck would lead to a new round of political conflict in the country but called on everyone to respect the rule of law.
“Justice will heal the divisions in the country. The NLA gave Yingluck the chance to clarify the allegations against her but she refused the chances given to her,’’ he said.
Akanat said Yingluck also failed to answer questions from the National Anti-Corruption Commission in her closing statement to the NLA.
He said the PDRC would not mount a political movement except one aimed at reform and the rehabilitation of protesters.
Pracha Taerat, chairman of the National Reform Council’s subcommittee on public participation and hearings, does not believe the impeachment of Yingluck will affect the upcoming public reform hearings in the country’s 77 provinces, which are slated to start next month and run to September.
He said each province would have 11 public hearings – 10 at district level and one at provincial level.
The hearings, he said, would focus on anti-graft, how to select honest politicians, how to ensure clean and fair elections and how to bridge the economic and social gap.