PM heeds protesters' concerns

PM heeds protesters' concerns

Protesters dismantle a barricade set up to keep them away from Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrako)
Protesters dismantle a barricade set up to keep them away from Government House on Tuesday. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrako)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has welcomed opinions voiced by various groups against a proposed bill on public gatherings and ordered the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to compile them for use in reviewing it, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

Mr Wissanu, however, insisted that one essential requirement must remain intact. That is all non-governmental organisations connected to public gatherings which receive funds from an overseas donor or financier must declare the source of the money to the authorities.

The deputy prime minister insisted the proposed law is by no means aimed at prohibiting public gatherings or cutting off the not-for-profit organisations' financial support from overseas sources.

He was responding to escalating protests by groups moving against the bill. The groups have opposed the principle of the proposed bill approved by the cabinet about a year ago. The bill is pending a public hearing on several sections.

In his response to the protesters' calls, Gen Prayut has ordered related ministries, the Council of State, which functions as the government's legal arm, and all other parties concerned to consider revising the draft before proceeding with the debate and passing it into law, said Mr Wissanu.

He insisted that nowhere in the legislation does it stipulate a curtailing of rights by banning public gatherings.

The proposed bill deals mainly with organisations based in Thailand needing to declare overseas funding.

The government wants to know how much money is provided by who and to whom and for what purposes, Mr Wissanu said.

The deputy prime minister assured the protesters that the draft bill is not being treated as priority legislation or that the government is trying to rush it through parliament.

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