A circular issued by the Higher Education Commission calling on universities to control student activities that might provoke political unrest has emerged as a potential cause of differences between the education minister and his deputy.
Deputy Education Minister Chaiyos Jiramethakorn (Puea Pandin Party) said yesterday the ministry might cancel the notice after the government was criticised for going too far in limiting the rights of students to express their views.
But Minister Chinnaworn Boonyakiat (Democrat Party) said the circular was intended only to ask for the cooperation of universities to ensure that student activities conform with the government's broad policies for educational institutes to support its "Thailand reform" initiative.
The commission wanted the universities to make sure that all extracurricular activities were in line with the government's reconciliation policies, the minister said.
The commission began circulating the letter on July 29 asking the universities to monitor students' theatrical performances to ensure they do not stir up political conflicts.
The commission said it had received complaints about student dramas that distorted the political situation and could provoke more conflicts.
Mr Chaiyos said he had not seen the wording of the circular but would ask the commission to send him a copy so he could decide if it did violate students' rights. If that were the case, he would cancel the order.
The government does not have a policy to limit the political rights of students and understood that the commission had issued the circular in response to a number of complaints, Mr Chaiyos said.
Puea Thai Party list MP Jatuporn Prompan said preventing students from voicing their political opinions could encourage them to make a major move against the government.