THE FOREIGN diplomatic corps who yesterday attended a briefing in Bangkok on last Sunday’s referendum expressed hopes for a relaxation of military rule, while Foreign Minister Don Pramuwinai said the military-led government’s “Thai approach” was the most
“People in uniform came to rid us of all evils in society,” Don told the foreign diplomats. “This is very unique [specific] to Thailand and cannot be judged by Western standards. We believe we have to address it in our own way.
“If you never believe that, why bother to come [to talk to us]?” Don added. “We speak the facts and want to be rid of wrongdoing.”
The foreign minister did not specify which foreign entities he was referring to, but this week the European Union and the US Secretary of State Department issued statements expressing concern about limitations of freedom of expression and assembly.
The Foreign Ministry yesterday invited 80 representatives from 48 countries to the briefing regarding the referendum and junta’s road map towards elections. Among those invited were 11 ambassadors. A representative from the Swiss Embassy expressed hope that the government would ease restrictions on freedom of assembly and implement other measures or legislation.
Reiterating the “necessity to keep the peace” as the reason the junta bans political gatherings of more than four people, Don also said some measures could be lifted while the junta was in power.
“If everything is stable then you will see possibilities,” he said. “Unless there are troublemakers … if there are five people trying to make trouble in a peaceful society, would you allow that to happen in your country?”
Once the National Council for Peace and Order steps down from power, Don said, its orders will be automatically lifted.
He emphasised the legitimacy of the recent vote with its 59.4-per-cent turnout and said the general election would be held by the end of next year, while the government would carry out reforms and foster understanding among people.
“We look forward to encouragement from our friends in the international community [who] express goodwill to Thai people and help us move forward,” Don said. Much of the 90-minute session was spent explaining the junta’s previous actions related to politics.
Charter drafters Jade Donavanik and Supachai Yawaprapat were also present to answer questions, which focused on including the public in the process.
Jade told foreign officials that the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) provided for inclusiveness by travelling to communities across the country to solicit the public’s opinions.
He added that the CDC would obtain input in the same manner when writing the organic laws related to the charter, although concrete plans have not yet been spelled out. Drafters also planned to invite politicians informally to share their thoughts on the laws, he said.
“We will see as much participation as we can given the time constraints,” Supachai said.