Students risk being tools of politicians, say experts

Students risk being tools of politicians, say experts

Students at anti-government rallies risk becoming a tool of politicians who are seeking ways to attack the Prayut Chan-o-cha administration, according to some political scientists and pundits.

"The innocent power of youngsters may unwittingly become a tool of Future Forward," said Rangsit University political scientist Wanwichit Boonprong.

Future Forward supporters had pledged to launch an off-parliament movement, but "this worries me because what their messages are outside the House are one-sided communication", Mr Wanwichit said.

He spoke of a widespread sentiment that the party was treated unfairly when the Constitutional Court ruled to dissolve it on Feb 21 over a 191.2-million-baht loan granted by its ex-leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

His concern came as students from the renowned all-girls Suksanari School yesterday became the latest to stage a flash mob to protest against the government.

Students have also been invited to join senior Future Forward members at a rehearsal for the "IO (cha)" mass protest -- referring to the prime minister and the army's controversial information operations -- at Bangkok's Kasetsart University this evening.

Student flash mobs are also attracting attention from politicians. Pheu Thai spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ard yesterday urged opposition politicians to join hands with students to "halt the Prayut regime", which succeeded the five-year military-backed government that followed the 2014 coup.

However, former politician Chuvit Kamolvisit said yesterday that it was easy for politicians to campaign and win support outside parliament by painting a "dream that touches people's hearts". He warned that such politicians were "playing with fire" and could be burnt.

But not all political observers saw the flash mobs as a political game in which idealistic young minds were being exploited.

Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political scientist at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said politicians' cooperation with demonstrators seemed motivated by a shared stance to promote democracy.

"These politicians need to act outside the House because the parliamentary mechanism is outdated and is not a solution for them," he said.

A student from Suksanari School who joined yesterday's rally said Future Forward had not been treated fairly, but added she had bigger priorities than criticising the court.

"If the government can solve problems and direct Thailand towards a better future, I'll accept it," she said.

Her group was dissatisfied with government spending and its failure to improve education.

Do you like the content of this article?

Death sentences in Koh Tao killings commuted

Two migrant workers from Myanmar on death row for the 2014 murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao have had their sentences commuted to life in prison under a royal decree, their lawyer said on Friday.


'Penguin' pinched

Student leader Parit Chiwarak arrested ahead of major rally for democracy, while Progressive Movement leader calls for talks, not crackdowns, to find solutions.


China aims to double high-speed rail network by 2035

China's unprecedented railway spending boom will continue for at least another 15 years and see its high-speed network nearly double in length, China Railway Group, the state-owned railway builder, said in a new blueprint published on Thursday.