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Fate of Yingluck govt hinges on parliamentary action on pending measures

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-7-25 16:40:19

The fate of the Thai government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra hinges on the final action by the parliament on several pending measures that include the controversial amnesty bill and economic-related legislations.

The Pheu Thai (For Thais) Party-led coalition government has opted to bring up the amnesty bill, designed to favor political prisoners and defendants, ahead of major financial legislations when parliament reconvenes early next month.

The executive branch will certainly be engaged in a legislative tug of war throughout the four-month-long parliamentary sessions that end in late November.

In the meantime, possibilities for the prime minister to dissolve the House of Representatives to pave the way for a fresh nationwide election if government-initiated bills failed to muster parliamentary approval cannot be ruled out, according to political observers here.

While some rank and file members of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, including the lady premier herself, are tight-lipped on the possibility of the dissolution of the House with others categorically dismissing it as ''very unlikely'' to happen, some legislators have already been visiting the respective bases in the provinces to prepare for such an eventuality.

As the Pheu Thai-led government is reaching halfway of its four- year term, Yingluck has begun to turn her Cabinet into the so- called ''roving Cabinet'' with Cabinet meetings held in the provinces where Yingluck and her officials made informal consultations with their constituents in the countryside.

While listening to the woes and problems of the people in the rural communities, Yingluck also briefed them about her government 's commitment to bring economic prosperity to the country, end poverty and boost their well-being through the major financial bills that her government had introduced to the parliament.

These measures include the 2014 budget proposal and the 730- billion US dollars loan package designed to finance the reconstruction of the country's rail systems, with the planned introduction of high-speed trains.

Some observers said that the ''roving Cabinet'' meetings in various parts of the country are not dissimilar to the party's electoral campaign in the nationwide race to Parliament.

The message that officials of the Yingluck government have brought to the people is that the ruling party's promises of economic prosperity and more social services could only be attained with the passage by parliament of the financial measures.

A general election will be held within 60 days after the lower house is dissolved, according to the Thai Constitution.

Former Senator Panat Tassaneeyanond has forecast that the premier would quickly dissolve the House of Representatives if any of those legislations was aborted by the legislative branch and a marathon amendment of the constitution, which now appears to be overshadowed by the amnesty and financial bills, would follow.

''The House of Representatives might probably be dissolved in the next few months. (Yingluck) wouldn't wait until the end of this year to dissolve it, if any of those legislations fail to bear fruit,'' Panat said.

The leadership of the ruling Pheu Thai Party has made an about face by reversing top priorities from the budget and loan bills, both of which already have passed the first hurdles in the lower house, to the amnesty bill which will be deliberated as the first item of parliament's agenda in order to pacify members of the pro- government Red Shirt activists, officially known as the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UFDAD).

The UFDAD has relentlessly sought the release of their colleagues detained in prison after having been accused of '' terrorist charges" following the army crackdown in 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nearly 100 people and injuries of an estimated 2,000 others.

Red Shirt leader Chatuporn Prompand recently cautioned that millions of his pro-Thaksin followers throughout the country would be so disappointed and frustrated and may no longer support the Pheu Thai Party in the next polls if the passage of the amnesty bill is further delayed.

In order to appease critics like Chatuporn, Pheu Thai Party Secretary General Poomtham Vejjachai has publicly announced that the legislation to give pardon to the Red Shirt political prisoners must be put as a top priority above all other legislative agenda of the Yingluck government, no matter how strong the objection from the opposition bloc, led by the Democrat Party, and non-elected senators in the upper house is.

The government's amnesty bill, proposed by Pheu Thai MP Vorachai Hema, might be considered alongside a parallel version, pushed by opposition Democrat MP Alongkorn Ponlabut, that would also give pardon to anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirt offenders who had prompted the military to depose Thaksin in the 2006 coup.

A highly-controversial amendment to the Thai Constitution, particularly the one involving the naming of future senators, will remain on the waiting list of the parliamentary agenda, according to the whips.
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