Thailand’s PM to open a forum for students to air their political views

A student holds up a sign alleging the Thai government involvement in the 1MBD scandal at a pro-democracy rally against the military government, at Thammasat University in Bangkok on February 26, 2020. – Thai students held rare flashmob protests on February 26 as anger at the dissolution of a stridently-anti military opposition party bubbled in a kingdom with a long history of street politics. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

The Government is ready to hold a forum, tentatively in mid-August, to allow student activists to voice their political views and grievances, said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha today (Tuesday).

He added that similar fora will be held in various places and the views expressed by the students will be collated and forwarded to him for consideration.

Earlier this morning, the Prime Minister said he felt uncomfortable with the protest at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus last night, during which some speakers made “improper references” to “sensitive issues”.

While recognizing the students’ right to free expression, as far as the Government is concerned, the Prime Minister said that the law must be enforced and violation of the law must be dealt with, otherwise it is useless.

Meanwhile, Thammasat University today offered an apology for any allegedly improper references to the Monarchy during the protest, as it promised to investigate the matter and to take action against those who are found to have breached the University’s regulations.

In a statement, issued today, the University promised to vet the use of its campus for extra-curricular activities more carefully, to prevent a repeat of last night’s incident.

Thammasat University upholds the democratic system with the King as head of the state while supporting free expression by students within the framework of the Constitution, laws and the good morals of the society, read the statement.

Meanwhile, police have been collecting evidence about last night’s protest, especially the role of the two non-student protesters, human rights lawyer Anont Nampa and Panupong Jaadnok, who are reported to have attended the protests at Thammasat University and in Chiang Mai province.

Anont and Panupong were released on bail last week, after they were charged with seven offences, including inciting public unrest, in connection with staging illegal protests.

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