'Law' now state's weapon of choice

'Law' now state's weapon of choice

Authorities now enforce the law to suppress people rather than the weapons of the past, a discussion recalling the Oct 6, 1976 student uprisings, which left scores dead and saw thousands arrested, was told on Sunday.

The forum at Thammasat University, titled "From Oct 6, 1976 to Crisis of Today: Four Decades of Nothingness, We Are Still Killing Each Other", was held to discuss the lessons learned from the violence that day.

Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, a human rights lawyer, said the authorities' main method of suppression has evolved into the use of laws and state orders to enable them to cling on to power.

Victims of popular uprisings may have been given some remedial compensation, "but what people really want is justice", the lawyer said.

Amending the charter would usher in justice system reform by doing away with laws which curtail rights and freedom, he added.

Benjarat Sae Chua, a Mahidol University lecturer, said state authorities were fearful of people who hold opposing views and do not accept their ideas.

"Society has not learned from the Oct 6 uprising, and so there have been no positive social and political changes," he said.

Surapong Suebwonglee, the former finance minister under the Samak Sundaravej administration and a student during the Oct 6 event, said the internet age has contributed to the creation of a strong popular force.

"The introduction of information technology has supported the progress of 'direct democracy' where people can voice their opinions using mobile phones and in social media," said Dr Surapong.

He said young people have the potential to move Thailand forward, "but please don't abandon the country and go live overseas," Dr Surapong said.

He also urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to listen to the people more as they can help to solve problems facing the government.

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