Thailand’s credibility under fire with continued political ban
POLITICIANS yesterday called for the junta to lift its ban on political activities soon or risk discrediting the country in the eyes of the international community.
Pheu Thai caretaker secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said it was unjustified for the regime to use the recent discovery of a large arms cache in Chachoengsao province last week as an excuse to maintain its ban on all political activities.
“I understand that the powers-that-be are trying to prolong their power. But it won’t be good for them or the country,” he said.
He added that the regime should be aware that people were suffering because of bread-and-butter issues and the root causes of the problem were the lack of confidence and certainty regarding the return of democracy, the acceptable system to the global community. “The more you [junta leaders] try to prolong your power, the less benefit to the country and the junta itself,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan last week warned the ban on political activities would not be lifted because of threats to national security, including the recent discovery of two caches of military weapons. The junta banned political gatherings of five or more people shortly after the 2014 coup, resulting in all activities related to politics, including party meetings, being prohibited.
As the ban remains in place, politicians have also expressed concerns that they have been unable to begin making arrangements prescribed by law for the election due to be held late next year. Under the law that came into effect in early October, political parties are required, for instance, to make adjustments such as updating registration records and reporting them to the Election Commission (EC) registrar within 90 days, or by January 5. Failure to comply with the stipulations could make parties ineligible to field candidates in the election.
Chart Thai Pattana Party director Nikorn Chamnong said political parties needed to convene meetings in order to update their records but if the ban remained in effect and they could not hold meetings, parties would have to ask for an extension of the deadline or face dissolution.
“I urge the junta to review this complicated problem. If there is turmoil, they can lift the ban to some extent to allow some party tasks to proceed,” Nikorn said.
Pol Colonel Charungwit Phumma, deputy secretary-general of the EC, said parties could submit letters asking for extensions to update their registration records.