Former Thai DPM leaves monkhood, vows to never seek amnesty

Former Thai DPM leaves monkhood, vows to never seek amnesty
NCPO warns former PDRC leader to steer clear of politics at press conference.
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Suthep Thaugsuban, the former leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said after leaving the monkhood yesterday that he would not seek amnesty for himself.

He said he was fighting various charges ranging from treason to terrorism and he could be sentenced to death or face life imprisonment, if found guilty.

"I will not plead for amnesty for myself or for those who commit grave criminal offences, especially lese majeste because it is a crime against national security,'' he said.

Suthep said he had spoken to Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday during a group ordination at a temple in Surat Thani, but the discussion was nothing special. "Abhisit never persuaded me to return to the party because he and other Democrats understand me well as we worked together for a long time. After I quit the party, everyone knows that I will not return to the party again,'' he said.

Meanwhile, General Chatchalerm Chalermsuk, deputy secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said yesterday that Suthep would be banned from speaking to the press if he intends to discuss politics. Suthep, who finished his stint as a monk yesterday, is planning to speak to the media tomorrow.

The political veteran had led anti-government protests for several months against the Yingluck Shinawatra government that led to a military coup in May last year.

Chatchalerm said he would send officials to monitor Suthep's press conference. Suthep has not asked the NCPO for permission to hold a press conference so he is not allowed to speak about politics, he said.

Suthep would be held to the same standards as everyone else, even the red shirts, whose members were asked to refrain from staging political activities for the sake of national reconciliation, peace and order, he said. Chatchalerm said the NCPO had clearly ordered that anyone wanting to hold any activities that may be deemed political must seek permission. The PDRC had not sought permission.

"If the group is not sure, it can submit details of the press conference. But if the group is confident the subject is not political in nature, there is no need to seek permission,'' he said.

NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said that he had learned from the pressthat Suthep planned to give a "constructive" press conference about the work of the Great Mass of People's Foundation for Thailand's Reforms and about the future of the country. He said the agency would have to await a report from its field officials to know what the press conference is about.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said the NCPO had sent officials to talk to his group about the planned press conference, adding that the PDRC told the officials that the foundation would not create conditions that lead to conflicts or associate with politics or have political motivation such as boosting political popularity.

Meanwhile, National Reform Council (NRC) member Alongkorn Ponlaboot welcomed Suthep's move to check the work of the NRC, as he had pushed for national reform in six areas when he led the anti-government protests.

Alongkorn said he would present members of the public with the reform master plan and blue print, which covers all reform aspects.

"The public has to accept that reform must be carried out continuously as an on-going process and the new government must take over the reform plans for implementation. The PDRC should use logic instead of emotion in its expectation that the six national reforms must be swiftly implemented,'' Alongkorn said.

The NRC has mapped out 37 reform issues and six major aspects: corruption, election fraud, political corruption, economic and social disparity, national divide, loss of the country's competitive advantage, low quality of education, and human resources.

Seree Suwanpanont, chief of the NRC's panel on legal and justice reform, admitted that the NRC had failed in its duty due to the time constraints, but he welcomed the PDRC to check its work. He cited a lack of coordination and public participation, especially from the political sector, as a major cause for the NRC's failure.

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