August 09, 2014 01:00 By Tanatpong Kongsai, Pravit Roj
A Thammasat University symposium that aimed to critically appraise the junta's provisional constitution went ahead at the last minute yesterday after police initially issued an order prohibiting it.
The order sparked controversy yesterday morning with one of the two lecturers who spoke at the event, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, questioning via his Facebook page why King Prajadhipok Institute was allowed to hold a similar event.
Piyabutr, a member of Nitirat Group, said that the students who organised yesterday’s symposium were given permission by the university to stage it before the police order was issued. An administrator at the university confirmed that.
The administrators said the students were told they would be liable if anything went wrong.
Due to confusion about the situation, some people did not make it to the symposium, which was held at the Faculty of Law. But about 200 people showed up.
Ekachai Chainuvati, deputy dean of Law at Siam University, was among the crowd. He said soldiers and Special Branch police were at the event.
“The atmosphere was a little bit more relaxed when the university administrators decided not to cancel the academic event,” Ekachai told The Nation. “Some people were angry at the National Council for Peace and Order and angry over the coup, but we all tried to finish the event without interference from the authorities.”
Ekachai said the crowd was told that drafting a good constitution required the involvement of as many people as possible in order to ensure that it was long lasting.
Concerns were also expressed that Article 35 of the provisional charter could mean the public would have little input in the permanent constitution.
A participant at the event, who asked not to be named, said: “Both speakers know their limitations and how not to violate the NCPO’s laws and orders.”