Deputy Senate speaker calls on MPs to defy court, continue charter deliberation
Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged the Cabinet to call an end to the current parliamentary session in order to ease the ongoing political confrontation and enable all parties to seek some form of solution.
Democrat Party MP Thepthai Senapong, meanwhile, said there were five factors that could lead to clashes between the red and yellow shirts and urged Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra not to keep herself above political issues any longer.
Abhisit, who is the Democrat Party leader, said he was concerned that the legislature’s failure to respect a court order could result in more chaos and impeachment of certain parliamentarians. “I think ending the parliamentary session is the best solution. The government claims that they must continue the session in order to read the anti-money laundering bill, which I agree is an urgent issue. But, without a clear decision by the government on whether to postpone this problematic issue, people will still be worried that there will be interference with the House deliberation of the reconciliation bills,” he said.
The opposition leader also said the recent claim by Thaksin Shinawatra that democracy was being “robbed” reflected the fact that the fugitive former premier only wanted his confiscated money back, and so he needed to lie in order to achieve his ends.
“Thaksin does things for himself and uses others as his hostages. We can achieve reconciliation if we do not whitewash the wrongs of those who cheat or those who intentionally commit crimes that are not related to politics,” said Abhisit. “We all can talk, but all the past conflicts were due to the government rushing things.”
Thepthai said the factors that would lead to a possible red-yellow confrontation included mass mobilisation by red-shirt leaders for the movement’s followers to come out onto the streets by claiming a coup plot was being hatched, when in fact there were no signs of possible power seizure by the military.
Second is what he described as an attempt to discredit the Constitution Court by groups including the Nitirat group of Thammasat University law lecturers.
Third, he said there were signs that the Constitution Court order to defer parliamentary consideration of charter amendment would be ignored, with the third and final parliamentary reading of the constitutional amendment bill going ahead as planned.
The fourth factor is street protests by both the yellow shirts and the multicoloured-shirt movement, while the last is the reassignment of police handling the protests, he said.
Thepthai also urged Yingluck to take steps to prevent any possible outbreak of violence.
Meanwhile, Deputy Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanit yesterday voiced his support for the idea that Parliament should go ahead with its final reading of the constitutional amendment bill.
He said he backed the idea that the Constitution Court had no power to suspend the parliamentary process of amending the charter.
Nikom said he would discuss with his Senate colleagues a proposal by coalition whips that there should be a joint meeting of the two Houses to discuss what to do in response to the court’s decision to accept for judicial review the petitions by opponents to the charter changes.
He also voiced his support for the decision by House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond to postpone the House of Representatives meeting to deliberate four reconciliation bills.
Ruling Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday that the party would call a meeting of its MPs today to discuss how to vote in the final reading of the constitutional amendment bill.
He said meeting participants would also discuss last week’s decision by the Constitution Court to accept for judicial review the petitions for the court to rule on whether the charter amendment bills were constitutional.
In response to opposition to the government-backed reconciliation bills to give amnesty to those involved in the political conflict, Prompong said the party’s MPs had been advised to explain to their constituents that not only Thaksin but also the entire country would benefit.
In a related development, the spokesman for the Constitution Court, Pimol Thammapitakpong, yesterday insisted that the court had the constitutional power to accept the matter of charter amendment for judicial review.
He cited Article 68 of the charter, which empowers people to petition directly with the court.
A source from the court said that if the House Speaker ignored the court’s order for the House deliberation to be suspended, his political party could risk dissolution for resisting a court order.