NSC plays up worry of 'third hands'

NSC plays up worry of 'third hands'

Pro-democracy students gather in a ‘flash mob’ on Wednesday at Ramkhamhaeng University. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Pro-democracy students gather in a ‘flash mob’ on Wednesday at Ramkhamhaeng University. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The National Security Council (NSC) has warned student protesters not to take their anti-government campaigns to the streets, saying they risk being manipulated by "third hands" who wish to see demonstrations lead to unrest.

NSC secretary-general Somsak Rungsita said on Sunday security agencies are keeping a close watch on flash mobs which are being held by students in the wake of the dissolution of the Future Forward Party over a loan case.

Gen Somsak said students should limit their activities to their university campuses rather than taking to the streets, as the NSC is concerned that they may be stirred up to provoke violent incidents.

The NSC is now assessing the security situation daily with soldiers and policemen deployed to maintain order, he said, adding that security authorities have been instructed to take a lenient approach with the protesters.

"It will be difficult to maintain security if they take to the streets as these 'third hands' may seek to instigate disturbances,'' said Gen Somsak, adding the government and security agencies have no authority to restrict the right to freedom of expression.

The dissolution of the FFP on Feb 21 sparked anti-government rallies by secondary and university students across the country protesting against what they perceive as unfair treatment of the party.

The FFP was dissolved by the Constitutional Court over a 191.2-million-baht loan it took from former party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Its 16 executives were slapped with a 10-year ban from politics.

After the verdict, the FFP, which has rechristened itself as the Future Forward Movement, vowed to continue to promote its ideology outside of parliament, potentially rattling government nerves.

Meanwhile, Isara Seriwatthanawuth, a list MP for the Democrat Party, said yesterday he has proposed an urgent motion to set up a special House committee to allow students to work with lawmakers to address social injustice, following the anti-government flash mobs.

He proposed the committee comprise a student representative from each school and university, so that their grievances can be addressed within the parliamentary system.

Mr Isara said students are a force to be reckoned with and they will play a vital role in steering the country towards a brighter future.

"Student voices must be heard if efforts to solve the country's problems are to be successful," he added.

In a Facebook post, Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, a list MP of the Thai Civilised Party, echoed the view, saying that the House should convene a special session to discuss ways to prevent political tensions stemming from rallies getting out of hand.

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