(Corrects headline to show that Yingluck didn’t specifically refer to amnesty for her brother, and adds comment in second paragraph on the legislation in parliament.)
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra backed her ruling party’s moves to pass a law that may exonerate her fugitive brother, saying a resolution of political turmoil since a 2006 coup will lead to stability.
“Reconciliation must be accepted by the majority of the people,” Yingluck said in an interview in Bangkok today, amid opposition to draft proposals that call for an amnesty for certain charges since the generals ousted her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. Asked whether passing the so-called reconciliation legislation is urgent, she said “it’s an important issue but we need to discuss and make sure people agree.” She said “we hope that in the parliament we can find a way together.”
Thailand’s 500-member parliament represents the country’s 66 million people and is the best place to resolve differences that have spawned deadly street protests in recent years, Yingluck said, without endorsing any of the four specific proposals, all of which would clear her brother. Her Puea Thai party won a majority in elections almost 11 months ago.
The comments represent the most public endorsement of her party’s efforts to pass a law clearing the way for Thaksin to return to Thailand after he fled a jail sentence in 2008. She is banking on her parliamentary majority and improved relations with the military to avoid a repeat of protests that year that saw her brother’s opponents seize Bangkok’s airports.
“Now the situation is different again because people learn enough after the coup,” Yingluck, 44, said. “The people who start the coup, like General Sonthi, also admit that this is not the right way to solve the problem.”
Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who led the 2006 coup and is now a lawmaker, tabled one of the amnesty proposals in Parliament. Policemen stepped in yesterday after lawmakers from the opposition Democrat party holding signs saying “Stop Fake Reconciliation and Amnesty for Corrupted Person” tried to forcibly remove House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont from presiding over the session.
“The nation’s justice system and righteousness are about to be destroyed if the reconciliation law enters the parliament and gets approved,” former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday on Blue Sky Channel, a broadcaster backed by his party. “We shouldn’t call it a reconciliation law because it is a law to erase wrongdoings.”
He supported lawful protests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy, a group of yellow-shirted royalist protesters who took over the airports in 2008 in a bid to remove Thaksin’s allies from power. The group is protesting outside Parliament today against efforts to pass the new law.
Thaksin has lived overseas since fleeing a two-year jail sentence in 2008 for helping his wife buy land from the government. A court seized 46.4 billion baht ($1.5 billion) of his family’s money in 2010, two weeks before his supporters started protests that shut down Bangkok’s commercial center and ended in a military crackdown and arson attacks.
“We got the clear mandate from the people,” Yingluck said in the interview, referring to her election last year.
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