Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why did the PM stay overnight in Singburi?

Did she deliberately stay the night in Singburi just to avoid yesterday's Cabinet meeting in Bangkok?

Premier Yingluck's aides said she had gone on a helicopter to Singburi with the intention of flying back to Bangkok Monday night for yesterday's weekly Cabinet's meeting.But she cancelled the flight back on grounds that the helicopter didn't have a night radar. But the army later said that the chopper was fine. It could have flown at night.

What was intriguing was that the premier had assigned Chalerm Yoobamrung, a deputy premier, to preside over the Cabinet meeting that, according to reports in most newspapers this morning, held a confidential session to pass a royal decree to hand down amnesty to convicts.

The amnesty decree draft stipulates that convicts who are at least 60 years old and have been sentenced to under three years in jail would be eligible.

More interesting than that, the draft does not bar convicts prosecuted for corruption from being granted the pardon. Neither does it require the convicts to at least partially serve a jail term before being eligible for the amnesty.

It was immediately clear to a lot of people that former premier Thaksin Shinawatra would be eligible. And that, naturally, created an immediate controversy all over the social media last night and the local newspapers this morning.

Reporters say all Cabinet members approached by newspeople this morning, including Chalerm, kept tight-lipped when asked about the hot story. Premier Yingluck was asked about that last evening. She would only say that she wasn't familiar witht the story. "Please ask Deputy Premier Chalerm about it." That's all she was willing to say.

Perhaps, the ongoing flood stories may be submerged by the amnesty decree report.

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