How Thai MPs voted on the Amnesty Bill
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How Thai MPs voted on the Amnesty Bill

BP has already blogged on the contents of the Amnesty Bill and we know that it has passed the House of Representatives, but who voted for it? Matichon has the details which BP has summarized below:

For the vote on the 3rd reading of the Amnesty Bill at the House of Representatives, there were 253 Puea Thai MPs who voted out of 264 MPs in total with 249 voting in favor and 4 abstaining, namely Worachai Hema sponsor of the [original wording] of the bill, [red shirt leader] Nattawut, [red shirt leader] Weng, and Khattiya [Seh Daeng’s daughter].

Those who didn’t vote include Yingluck, Chalerm, Pracha Prasobdee [MP from Samut Prakarn], Snoh Thientong as well as the Speaker and two Deputy Speakers.

For coalition parties, for Chart Thai Pattana 18 out of 19 MPs attended and voted for the Bill with the one exception being an MP from Rathchaburi who didn’t vote For Bhum Jai Thai, 29 out 33 of its MPs voted for the Bill with those who didn’t vote including Chaowarat [father of Anutin], Pornthiva [former Commerce Minister], Boonjong Wongtrairat [deputy leader] , and Buriram MP [who is the wife of former Transport Minister Sophon]. This means that Newin’s faction also voted for the Bill including Newin Chidchob.

Rak Santi’s Purachai, together with Chuwit and his MPs, former coup leader Sondhi B didn’t vote.

BP: The Democrat MPs who were in parliament walked out during the second reading and so hence it passed 310-0, but some additional comments are below:

1. Why did not more Puea Thai MPs who are red shirts not abstain? It was not as though Puea Thai needed all of them to vote for the Bill given the dominance of their majority. Sure if there were 50 MPs abstaining it wouldn’t have looked good, but if another 5-10 more it wouldn’t have mattered. Of course, you can say they could have crossed the floor, but once Puea Thai had internally voted and sought to compel party discpline, but then do what? Very few MPs have the moral convictions (or money) to do that as Puea Thai threatened not to allow those who did not comply with not allowing them to run at the next election. It is not as though there was another party to go to as well. Will leave a full assessment of political fallout of Puea Thai’s decision to change the original wording of the Amnesty Bill for a latter post, but the decision of more red shirt-aligned Puea Thai MPs not to abstain makes little strategic sense for the party (unless they really think that the Amnesty Bill won’t hurt with many reds) or moral sense from the point of those MPs who been attacking Suthep and Abhisit as killers for a couple of years. At least, abstain….

2. While Bhum Jai Thai is not part of the coalition and they have been on the outs with Thaksin since Newin left the Thaksin fold in December 2008, but have been making public statements on wanting to return to the fold. The Nation in September 2013:

However, BJT leader Anutin Charnvirakul said Pheu Thai now had enough MPs, so it did not need 34 more from his party.

Anutin, a “buddy” of BJT de facto leader Newin Chidchob, joined the political reform forum initiated by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra late last month.

Today, while the Democrat Party is going strongly against the government, Anutin announced that his party was ready to support the government of Yingluck, who is Thaksin’s younger sister.

“We have always been friends of Thaksin, although we are in different parties,” Anutin said.

“Where can we stand in the Pheu Thai Party? BJT has 34 MPs – seven from the Matchima faction [led by Somsak Thepsuthin], and 27 are ‘Friends of Newin’. If we want to return, we will have to wait in a long line,” he said.

BP: At some point, particularly as there is likely to be electoral fallout from Puea Thai’s decision to give amnesty to Suthep and Abhisit and essentially put the interests of Thaksin and others above finding justice for the dead reds, Thaksin may need to turn to Newin again so Newin will want to make sure he is in Thaksin’s good books.

There is, of course, another reason for Newin to support the Amnesty Bill and that is, if there is support from some faction(s) of the establishment for it then Bhum Jai Thai’s Anutin would likely know about it, and would want to support it…

h/t to a reader