PM-Prem meeting ‘acceptable’…Prem,the REAL King
Bangkokpost, 27 April 2012
There was nothing wrong with the meeting between the prime minister and Privy Council chairman Prem Tinsulanonda, a prominent northern red-shirt activist said on Friday.
Petcharawat Watanapongsirikul, advisory chairman of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, was responding to criticism of Thursday’s event involving Yingluck Shinawatra by some factions in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.
Ms Yingluck and three of her deputies went to Gen Prem’s Si Sao Thewes residence in Bangkok on Thursday afternoon for a traditional Songkran rod nam dam hua blessing.
Mr Petcharawat said Ms Yingluck and the governing Pheu Thai Party must fulfill their promises made during the election campaign: to amend the 2007 charter, to create national reconciliation, to bring fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra home; and to implement their populist policies for the people.
Some red-shirts did not understand that the government and Pheu Thai must adapt to current conditions and also must abide by the demands of the majority of Thai people, he added.
Red-shirt critics of Ms Yingluck believe her government is becoming too friendly with elements that they blame for the coup that ousted her brother in 2006. They also feel she is not taking a sufficiently hard line on dealing with those responsible for the bloody end to the May 2010 red-shirt protests, in which 91 people died.
Promoting reconciliation is not about whitewashing the wrongs in connection with the 91 deaths, said Mr Petcharawat. It was aimed at healing and providing financial assistance for the victims of political violence.
Offenders must be held responsible for any wrongs they committed and must be punished, he added.
“The red-shirts should not rally against Gen Prem because the meeting between Ms Yingluck and the statesman and bringing about national reconciliation are different matters,” he said.
The red-shirts should stand firm on their stance to protect democracy and to act as guards to prevent powers from outside the system getting involved in politics. Politics is a matter for political parties, he added.
For example, Mr Petcharawat said, the red-shirts should not interfere with the coming byelection in Chiang Mai’s Constituency 3, to replace the disqualified MP Chinnitcha Wongsawat, daughter of former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, who is married to the premier’s older sister.
It is the prerogative of the Pheu Thai Party to select a suitable candidate to run in the byelection and the red-shirts must respect the party’s decision.
Ms Yingluck insisted on Friday that she merely offered Gem Prem a Songkran blessing and that the meeting was non-political.
It is a Thai tradition that younger people should approach the more senior ones to ask for blessing during the Thai New Year festival, she said.
Asked about her 30-minute discussion with Gen Prem, Ms Yingluck said there was no discussion of politics because Gen Prem has never got involved in it.
The issues raised included ways to work to better help people in far South and other development projects on which Gen Prem had years of experience, she said.
Asked whether she had apologised to Gen Prem on behalf of her elder brother, Ms Yingluck did not answer.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit on Friday said members of the public felt “sabai jai” (comfortable) with the meeting between the Yingluck cabinet members and Gen Prem.
Mr Prompong said people had expressed their views toward the meeting through the party, saying they felt at ease that the premier and her colleagues performed a traditional blessing for a “respected adult” without having any political agenda.
Mr Prompong said the meeting should not be used for any political purposes. He also claimed most supporters of the UDD were satisfied with the way Thursday’s event was conducted.