Student Union calls on Prayut to scrap new 'code of conduct'

Student Union calls on Prayut to scrap new 'code of conduct'

Freedom of expression is at stake, leaders say

Members of the Student Union of Thailand hold placards with the message 'Stop reining in the rights of students' at the Education Ministry on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Members of the Student Union of Thailand hold placards with the message 'Stop reining in the rights of students' at the Education Ministry on Friday. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Representatives from the Student Union of Thailand gathered at the Education Ministry on Friday to demand a revision of a proposed amendment to student conduct regulations issued in 2005. They say the amendment will have a negative impact on their freedom.

The student activists submitted a petition to the prime minister via the ministry in which they demanded the complete scrapping of new regulations which bar students from public gatherings, "inappropriate" displays of affection and causing a public disturbance.

The ministry had recently submitted a request in which it sought to restrict students from public assembly that could cause public disturbances. The student's request has been forwarded to the Council of State.

In its proposal, the ministry said it wanted to prevent the problems of brawling, motorcycle racing, and drug use. It also sought to clamp down on public displays of affection or any act deemed lewd. It went on to warn students not to share revealing pictures on social media.

The new draft would also prevent students from leaving school premises as it might be deemed a nuisance.

Members of the student union were seen holding banners writing "Stop! Controlling the freedom of students", and raised questions about whether the move to make these changes had a hidden political motive by the government.

"The new amendments will have a negative effect on the quality of life and education of students as the draft clearly infringes on individual privacy. The language used in the amendments also carry great ambiguity, which poses the threat for it to be used as a political apparatus to restrict students' political rights and freedom of expression," said Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, the Student Union's president.

"The Student Union has kindly asked the Ministry of Education to put an end to the new amendments and seriously consider guaranteeing that the lives of students belongs to the students," the Thammasat University student said.

The petition was officially handed to permanent secretary for education Karun Sakulpradit, who will submit it to the prime minister for consideration.

"I would like to assure that the amendment to students' conduct are designed as a safeguard to protect children and that there are no political motives behind it. Most importantly, the Ministry of Education does not intend to infringe on students' rights or undermine their freedom of expression," Mr Karun said.

"This approach to raise awareness is correct, but please approach the matter carefully as the end goal is to build a framework which ensures the youth are free from temptations," Mr Karun added.


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