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Pheu Thai’s Somkid Chueakong Pushes Controversial Amnesty Bill Including Lese-Majeste Offenses

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Mps were gathered in a parliament meeting in August 2023. (Bangkok Post File Photo)

The ruling Pheu Thai Party‘s recent push to include lese-majeste offenses under a proposed political amnesty bill has stirred up a cauldron of controversy. This bold move could potentially spell the government’s early demise, as cautioned by a deputy government spokesman on Thursday.

Speaking on the matter, Karom Polpornklang from the Bhumjaithai Party expressed his party’s cautious approval of the amnesty bill. “We welcome efforts to pass the amnesty bill,” said Karom. “It would help resolve ongoing political conflicts and foster unity within society.”

However, Karom also issued a strong warning. “A blanket pardon for lese-majeste offenders can reignite old conflicts and lead to the downfall of the government,” he said, echoing sentiments recently expressed by Bhumjaithai leader and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. “Bhumjaithai has no problem with Section 112, and we will leave it alone,” declared Anutin.

After months of silence on this polarizing issue, the Pheu Thai Party has suddenly found its voice. This sudden reawakening followed the indictment of party patriarch Thaksin Shinawatra under Section 112 for comments he made almost a decade ago. Somkid Chueakong, a Pheu Thai member and spokesman for the House committee studying the bill, threw his weight behind the proposal to include Section 112 violations in the list of offenses that would be pardoned.

“It shouldn’t be an uphill battle,” Somkid said, noting that several committee members backed the move, although he refrained from offering further details. The push to include Section 112 offenses began long before the attorney-general decided to indict Thaksin, he insisted.

The paroled ex-premier is currently facing lese-majeste and computer crime charges for remarks he made during an interview with a South Korean newspaper back on February 21, 2015. Thaksin is scheduled to appear at the Office of the Attorney General on June 18 to respond to these charges. He allegedly defamed the monarchy during his interview with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, claiming that privy councillors supported the 2014 military coup that overthrew the government led by his younger sister, Yingluck.

In a related development, activists led by Pichit Chaimongkol of the Network of Students and People Reforming Thailand, delivered a letter to the House committee on Thursday. They called on the committee to disregard any attempt to include lese-majeste offenses in the amnesty bill. Pichit also argued that those convicted of corruption and other serious crimes should be excluded from the bill.

This latest push for political amnesty has resurrected bitter memories from the past. Pichit warned that attempting to pass such a bill could result in political unrest akin to what was witnessed during Yingluck’s administration. Back in 2013, her administration tried to pass a blanket political amnesty bill, which led to massive protests.

The 2013 bill was heavily criticized for its broad scope, which many saw as a legal whitewash for Thaksin, who was then in self-exile. The move triggered massive protests led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, culminating in the 2014 military coup that ousted the Pheu Thai-led administration. The bill was eventually rejected by the Senate and sent back to the House of Representatives, where coalition MPs refused to reconsider it.


  1. Anna Lee June 6, 2024

    Including lese-majeste offenses in the amnesty bill is a dangerous move! It could destabilize the entire country.

    • Mark June 6, 2024

      But isn’t it necessary to move forward and heal old wounds? This could be a step towards unity.

      • Anna Lee June 6, 2024

        Unity is important, but not at the expense of rule of law. It’s a slippery slope.

      • Educator123 June 6, 2024

        I agree with Anna. Forgiving serious offenses can set a bad precedent. We need to uphold respect for the monarchy.

    • Jon June 6, 2024

      Mark, laws should evolve with time. Section 112 has been used to silence political dissent.

  2. Siobhan T. June 6, 2024

    This is just another tactic by Pheu Thai to protect Thaksin. It’s transparent and self-serving.

    • Loy June 6, 2024

      True, it does seem like they’re looking out for their own. Not much has changed since Yingluck’s time.

    • ThaiPhD June 6, 2024

      But can we discount the genuine need for reconciliation? Thaksin aside, many people have been unjustly prosecuted under this law.

  3. politico101 June 6, 2024

    It’s about time they changed the lese-majeste law. It’s been abused for far too long.

    • Critic-Eye June 6, 2024

      Abused? It’s a law that ensures respect for our monarchy. Changing it would be a disaster.

      • politico101 June 6, 2024

        Respect is earned, not demanded through outdated laws. We need to progress.

    • NeutralView June 6, 2024

      Maybe a compromise is possible. Could amnesty be given for minor offenses but not serious ones?

  4. Kate L. June 6, 2024

    Historical context shows us this could lead to coups! Remember 2014?

    • HistBuff June 6, 2024

      Exactly, we’re treading on thin ice. Political instability is a real risk.

    • Modernist June 6, 2024

      Or maybe it could lead to better dialogue and understanding? Times are different now.

    • Refugee222 June 6, 2024

      People are quick to forget the chaos this caused last time.

    • Kate L. June 6, 2024

      Indeed. It’s like we didn’t learn anything from the mistakes of the past.

  5. ReleaseLaws June 6, 2024

    Laws should protect people, not political power. Amnesty is a step in the right direction.

  6. GrownUp84 June 6, 2024

    This amnesty bill is only going to create more division. It’s a bad idea.

    • Realist June 6, 2024

      Yes! It will stir the pot, just like in the past. This is a recipe for disaster.

    • PeaceLover June 6, 2024

      Sometimes peace needs bold steps, even if they seem divisive initially.

    • GrownUp84 June 6, 2024

      Bold steps should still be sensible. This feels more reckless than bold.

  7. SkepticTim June 6, 2024

    Does anyone really believe this is about unity? It’s clearly political maneuvering.

    • Cynic27 June 6, 2024

      Exactly. They’re just trying to get Thaksin out of hot water. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

    • Optimist June 6, 2024

      Perhaps it’s both? Opportunism and a genuine attempt at reconciliation can coexist.

  8. PoliticoFan01 June 6, 2024

    This is a classic Pheu Thai move. They’re always looking out for themselves.

  9. JustHuman June 6, 2024

    Whether or not you agree, it is undeniable this bill will deeply impact so many lives.

  10. PeaceLover June 6, 2024

    To achieve true unity, sometimes we must forgive. It’s the harder, but right choice.

  11. GrownUp84 June 6, 2024

    I don’t think blanket pardons are ever the right choice. Accountability is important.

    • Scholar77 June 6, 2024

      Indeed. Justice should take precedence over quick fixes.

  12. FreedomFighter June 6, 2024

    Pheu Thai’s stance is brave, if nothing else. They’re challenging age-old norms.

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