FOREIGN MINISTER Don Pramudwinai yesterday opposed the idea of having foreign organisations observe the next general election, maintaining that the country is capable of holding a free and fair national vote.
Don said foreign observers typically visit countries with problematic elections. “Allowing foreign observers means we have problems, in their eyes or in our own view. It means we can’t take care of ourselves. And that’s inauspicious.” He added that the best observers of the election could be eligible Thai voters and their compatriots.
“My question is whether the media wants our country to be viewed as problematic in the eyes of the international community. The fact is that we have no problems holding an election,” Don told reporters at Government House.
For the sake of credibility, politicians and critics have sought foreign monitors to be observers during the general election tentatively scheduled for February 24. The Election Commission (EC) has reportedly taken requests from foreign organisations to observe the national vote.
The foreign minister said yesterday that foreign countries are actually following developments regarding the upcoming election through their missions in Thailand.
“We don’t need to rely on foreign countries for everything that we do. Having foreign intervention would mean we are still immature and undeveloped. We can do it ourselves and we have succeeded many times already,” he said.
Don cited the national referendum on the Constitution in 2016, which he said had gained praise and acceptance from the international community. He said that this was not a matter of narrowmindedness. “It would be a pity if we have to rely on others all the time. We need outside assistance only if we can’t do it with the knowledge and methods we have.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday dismissed an allegation by politicians that the junta was trying to gain an advantage over political parties by not lifting the political restrictions although the voting date was drawing near. General Prayut, who also heads the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said complete relaxation of post-coup political restrictions would be in line with the relevant laws.
“This has nothing to do with the NCPO,” he said at Government House.
According to the PM, the law states that talks among relevant parties about the lifting of political restrictions can take place only after a decree is issued setting the election date, which is expected by December.
In response to a warning by some politicians of violence during the poll, Prayut said the government was doing its best to maintain peace and order. “I don’t know who wants to create disorder. If they dare to do so, I don’t think the public will agree with them,” he said. While politicians are still prohibited from campaigning for votes, the premier has frequently made trips to the provinces in recent months, meeting local residents.
He is scheduled to travel to Kanchanaburi today. Prayut’s trips during this period would focus on provinces where the government’s popularity is poor, according to a source familiar with the matter. After each of his trips, relevant agencies would survey local residents about their opinions regarding the PM’s visit, the source said.