Amnesty Bill slated for Senate debate Nov 8

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BANGKOK, Nov 1 – The Thai senate is tentatively set to debate the Amnesty Bill, passed in the final reading by the Lower House this morning, next Friday. 

Senate speaker Nikom Wairatpanich said the Upper House would have a maximum 60 days to conclude its deliberations and he would discuss with the Senate whip on Wednesday to decide if the bill could be put on the agenda next Friday or on Nov 11 at the latest.

“It’s not an attempt to serve the government but the 60-day deadline for the Senate is crucial,” he said. “Once the Senate approves the bill, a scrutiny committee will be set up to vet it.”

Whether the bill will be concluded before the end of the parliamentary session on November 28 depends on the scrutiny committee, said Mr Nikom.

He said the bill has only seven articles and it should be resubmitted to the Senate for the second and third reading before November 28 if the scrutiny is done by November 25-26.

Asked how the Senate would cool down the rising political temperature due to the bill, Mr Nikom said people made their own assumptions that there would be unrest.

“We should look at the principle of the bill which aimed at pardoning people who were slapped with charges,” he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra admitted that she was concerned with the political movements of several activist groups and urged them to cooperate with the authorities under the law.

She said the government has not prepared any measures in case the Amnesty Bill was rejected by the Senate since “we don’t want to interfere in the parliamentary mechanism.”

Authorities in charge of security have been instructed to closely evaluate the situation and avoid confrontations which could lead to clashes and violence, she said.

National police chief Adul Saengsingkaew said enforcement of the Internal Security Act in three districts around Government House and Parliament would not be expanded for the time being.

He gave assurances that rubber farmers from the South would not join the Democrat-led rally near Samsen railway station and he did not foresee an escalating situation.