House debating 2nd reading of Amnesty Bill Thursday

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BANGKOK, Oct 29 – Thailand’s House Speaker called a special meeting of lawmakers Thursday to deliberate for the second reading the controversial Amnesty Bill, denying allegations that the move was in response to an “order” from ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont said the special House meeting is scheduled for October 31 at 9.30am to consider the bill which will grant a blanket amnesty to those who ordered a crackdown on protesters in the 2010 political protests, and leaders of the demonstrations.

He said the Thursday House deliberation is required by law as the bill has already been approved in the first reading and by a special committee, adding that the Opposition will be given time for the bill’s scrutiny in the parliament.

As the opposition argued that the Amnesty Bill is considered a financial bill, Mr Somsak said he will call a meeting of 35 House committees to consider the issue.

The House Speaker also expressed confidence that the bill will not further cause divisiveness in the society as justice will be returned to all affected parties.

He said the bill is aimed at national reconciliation, not for the benefit of any particular person, including former premier Thaksin.

“I believe the situation will not escalate and I reaffirm that this is not Mr Thaksin’s order to speed up the process,” stated the House Speaker.

Regarding security measures at Parliament on deliberation day, Mr Somsak urged the security agencies to assess the situation and prepare appropriate measures as needed.

Deputy House Speaker Chareon Chankomol said the bill needs to be urgently debated as it impacts the public and national security, while the Thai people are also keen to know about it.

Mr Charoen admitted that the content of the amnesty bill may not satisfy all parties, but said it is the duty of the House scrutiny committee to create better understanding among the public.