Newsman quits university over poll row
Alleges Suan Dusit conducting polls to please govtA veteran journalist from the mass-circulation Thai Rath has resigned as president of Suan Dusit Rajabhat University Council. He said he was dissatisfied that the university allegedly conducted opinion surveys to please the government.
Manit Suksomchit, a senior editor of Thai Rath and former member of the constitution drafting assembly (CDA), said that he decided to resign as the council president because he had a different stand from the university.
Manit has been the president of the university council since 1987.
He said he had a difference with the university after Suan Dusit Rajabhat was hired by the government to organise 108 hearings on charter amendments. Aside from the fact that a university should not get involved in politics, he said he disagreed with the efforts to amend the 2007 charter.
"I took part in drafting the 2007 Constitution and I think it is a good charter because it plugged loopholes in the 1997 charter to prevent businessmen from reaping benefits through corruption. Several points that would have allowed politicians to abuse [authority] had been prohibited," Manit said.
"The 108 hearings on charter amendment would mobilise people to tear down the Constitution. The interior minister had also said he would recruit people to attend the hearing, adding that, 'The fool should not join in the hearing'.
"So I can't agree with any effort to annul this charter," he said.
Manit rejected media reports that he was angry with Dusit Poll as it was "hired" to conduct polls, saying he had never said so.
He said the last straw for him was an opinion survey by the university, announced on December 20. In the survey, respondents were asked which politicians they would like to survive if the world ended. Manit said the survey brought widespread criticism that the poll was conducted to please the prime minister.
Manit said the university rector asked him to reconsider his resignation. "But I replied that had I wanted to stay, I would not have resigned. I announced my resignation at the council meeting and all applauded me, but I don't know if they like me or not. So far, no one has followed suit."
He said the university continued to conduct strange surveys, but he did not read the survey questions in detail.
Assoc Prof Dr Sukhum Chaloeysup, who is in charge of Suan Dusit Poll, said Suan Dusit always conducted opinion surveys based on academic principles.
He said the university did not conduct surveys to please the government and it had been holding this kind of survey since the tenure of the Democrat-led government.
Sukhum had been assigned by the government committee in charge of following up on reconciliation proposals to select sample groups for conducting public hearings on charter amendments.
He said the public hearings were definitely not a reason behind Manit's resignation. The government committee had suspended the hearing plan after the government began contemplating whether to hold a public referendum on charter amendments or not, he said.