Timebombs lie in wait

Timebombs lie in wait

Clashes between police and activists on Sunday night left many injuries on both sides. It's tragic that one policeman died from a heart attack during the operation.

This newspaper condemns violence from either side. Police and REDEM (Restart Democracy) protesters -- the latest incarnation of the Free Youth Movement -- have tried to point the finger at each other over this unsavoury event.

Some observers are questioning the police's use of rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters. Several have been placed under detention.

Observers have also cautioned of escalating violence since young pro-democracy activists decided to hit the streets around this time last year.

REDEM started their political campaign on Sunday with a march from Victory Monument to the 1st Infantry Regiment barracks, where the residence of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is located, at 3pm.

The residence was an issue on Dec 2 after the opposition sought a Constitutional Court ruling over whether the premier continuing to live in a military welfare home despite his premiership was against the 2017 military-sponsored charter.

By handing down a ruling in favour of the PM, the court set a dubious precedent as it weighed military regulations over the supreme law.

However, it is fears over contempt of court accusations that have kept critics mouths shut over this controversial ruling.

As the government and right-wing elements aim to maximise political gains at all costs, the country's political situation is heading towards a deadlock.

From what was deemed to be a compromise over demands for the amendment of the 2017 constitution, the government has resorted to cheap tactics to delay the process now it believes the pro-democracy movement to be waning.

The latest move by Palang Pracharath MP Paiboon Nititawan and his colleagues in the party and Senate seeking an intervention by the charter court is another such attempt. In doing so, the officials have dangerously drawn the court into politics.

Of course, the government's victory in the no-confidence debate last month may also contribute to a growing and risky sense of complacency.

It was a similar sense of invulnerability that pre-empted the downfall of the Yingluck Shinawatra administration in 2013 when it passed the shameful amnesty bill that triggered massive protests by the People's Democratic Reform Committee.

Those protests plunged the country into a political abyss and ended with the coup led by Gen Prayut, then army chief.

Unfortunately, Gen Prayut failed to keep his promise that he would not remain in politics for long, and these hollow words have certainly contributed to the current mess.

But it must be realised that the numbers are not as important as the movement's principles.

Yesterday, House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said that while the pro-democracy demonstrators have the right to hold peaceful protests, they must be aware of the consequences.

The same warning should also be sent to government officials -- there are consequences when they fail to do the right thing, and officials must get the charter rewrite process back on track.

The recent confrontation is a symptom of mistrust and the government must be aware that unless it is more transparent numerous political timebombs lie in wait.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : ploenpotea@bangkokpost.co.th

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