It's time for compromise
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's openness for talks with the pro-democracy movement is welcome and it's hoped that the gesture is not too late given the standoff last night between police and a huge crowd trying to reach Government House.
In a national address broadcast last night, Gen Prayut said the government is prepared to revoke the state of emergency in Bangkok unless the situation worsens. He hopes student-led protesters will listen to his plea.
Gen Prayut said every party must take one step backward and talk, while assuring that "he is all ears". All the demands should be discussed in parliament which is to convene an extraordinary session on Oct 26 and 27.
He said his decision should ease the tensions. He also conceded "most of the demonstrators have good intentions".
As of press time last night, the pro-democracy groups were on the way to Government House amid fears of a confrontation with a self-proclaimed royalist group led by well-known lawyer Nitithorn Lamlua. Scuffles took place earlier between demonstrators and riot police at Urupong intersection. The confrontation was a result of the misguided strategy of security forces with mobilisation of far-right elements as the divisions widen.
It's evident the government's iron-fist approach, especially the crackdown on the peaceful rally at Pathumwan intersection on Oct 15 and other disproportionate measures, including a bid to ban some media outlets, has not worked. Security forces also sprayed protesters with high-pressure water tainted with unknown chemicals, which drew criticism and sparked the anger of demonstrators who have gathered in force since Oct 16.
The prime minister has evidently softened his stance this week. On Tuesday, he instructed authorities to reconsider all legal measures implemented against the demonstrators and be flexible.
Among the fallacious measures was the attempt of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) to seek a court order to close all online platforms of four media outlets including Voice TV and the anti-government Free Youth movement.
However, the Criminal Court on Wednesday lifted its closure order, citing the need to observe Sections 35 and 36 of the constitution, which prohibit the state from closing mass media outlets to eliminate their freedom to report news and people's freedom of communication.
It said only illegal content should have been blocked, not the platforms.
The court's decision on Wednesday was a slap in the face for the DES.
On Monday the court granted a DES request to order the closure of the website operated by Voice TV. The ministry obtained similar closure orders for Prachatai, The Reporters, The Standard and the Free Youth movement.
The court blamed the DES for failing to clearly inform it that its request would result in the closure of the platforms. The ministry's presentation to the court had been inaccurate and the court had not received correct information. It had misunderstood that the closure of the URLs would block only particular content that the ministry had presented.
Now the government has extended its olive branch, all sides should reciprocate and be open for talks and compromise. The government must prove its sincerity by pursuing charter change, while the pro-democracy movement should realise all their demands cannot be met overnight. Instead, they should work things out together to bridge differences with the national interest the ultimate goal.
Bangkok Post editorial column
These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.
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