Constructive criticism 'should be permitted'

national July 22, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Democrat leader urges junta to ease restriction on the media and critics

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on the junta to allow people with differing views to present constructive criticism of its orders and administration, saying that would propel the country toward true reconciliation and democracy. 
Although the country is about to enter the second stage of the National Council for Peace and Order’s roadmap to democracy, the council last week slapped additional orders that critics say are aimed at completely silencing its critics – especially the media.
Abhisit wrote on his Facebook page that people who disagreed with the junta had offered their views with honest intentions in order to bring about true reform for the country. 
“Many people are willing to help push the country to achieve successful reform. 
“They are entitled to present their opinions. I also have the same intentions,’’ he wrote.
Abhisit said although the NCPO seized power to restore peace and order, Thais were paying a price because their freedom of expression has been curbed and democracy has taken a step back.  
“We must admit that society has given the NCPO the chance to work to the best of its ability, but it does not mean Thais would be satisfied if the NCPO exercises its absolute power forever,’’ he said.
“Whether the peace that prevails now is sustainable or not can be proven when freedom of expression is not restricted.
“If the NCPO’s administration cannot be subjected to criticism, public pressure will accumulate and reconciliation will not be achieved.’’ 
Abhisit said that as the country began the second stage of the roadmap to democracy, the public was hoping to see the junta slowly return power to the people and relax restrictions on freedom of expression.
He said that once the interim government and the National Legislative Assembly were installed, greater freedom of expression should be allowed to support reform procedures. 
“The absolute power should be used only to clean up the house or right all the wrong things such as cracking down on influential people behind van and motorcycle taxi operations and fighting corruption at national level,” he wrote.
Abhisit said he hoped that in the interim charter, the junta only gave itself amnesty for taking control of the country but not to pardon other offences that must go through proper justice procedures. 
He would present points of concern over the NCPO’s administration and orders that might compound the country’s situation if they were implemented in the long term.
Meanwhile, former deputy PM Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the Pheu Thai Party would call a meeting to elect a new executive board after the new charter, which would allow the party to carry out political activities, was promulgated.
In the wake of the May 22 coup, Charupong Ruangsuwan, who lives in exile abroad, resigned as party leader and announced the formation of the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy, which aims to restore democracy.
But Surapong insisted that other party members had stopped their political activities while some had started a business or taken an overseas holiday. “We do not even meet to dine together, fearing we may be summoned and taken into custody again,” he said.

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