Suchart backs student House meet

Suchart backs student House meet

Aims to stop political tensions from flaring

Students hold up the three-finger salute as they denounce dictatorship and stand up for democracy at Triam Udom Suksa School in Bangkok on Feb 27. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Students hold up the three-finger salute as they denounce dictatorship and stand up for democracy at Triam Udom Suksa School in Bangkok on Feb 27. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen is backing calls by lawmakers to hold an extraordinary House session to seek ways of easing political tensions stemming from anti-government student rallies launched in the wake of Future Forward Party's dissolution.

Mr Suchart said the charter's Section 23 allows one-third of both MPs and senators to call on the House speaker to hold a special session to discuss urgent issues. He added that he will support this move because holding a special House session will give lawmakers the opportunity to step in and address students' concerns.

"It is good that students are more politically active. We should not accuse them of having any hidden agenda or consider them as opponents. Students who have come out to protest only have differing opinions," Mr Suchart said.

He added that the protesters should be given a chance to air their grievances, and parliament will serve as the best venue. However, he said, if lawmakers cannot gather enough support for a petition to hold an extraordinary session as required by the charter, then they will have no choice but to wait until the House resumes in May.

Though it is still unclear as to whether the special session can be held, Mr Suchart said the parliament has mechanisms to work proactively, with several committees still holding meetings every week to gather feedback from students, which can be presented as an urgent motion when the House resumes.

Democrat MP Isara Seriwatthanawuth earlier proposed a special House panel be set up to allow students to work with lawmakers to address social injustice. This was in response to the anti-government flash mobs.

Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, a Thai Civilised Party MP, echoed the view, saying that the House should convene a special session to find ways of preventing political tensions from flaring up.

The Feb 21 dissolution of the FFP sparked rallies by secondary and university students nationwide against what they said was unfair treatment.

The FFP was dissolved 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 the Future Forward Movement, vowed to continue promoting its ideology outside parliament, potentially rattling the government's nerves.

Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, former protest leader and co-founder of coalition partner, the Action Coalition for Thailand Party, said on Thursday that rally leaders must ensure that protesters do not break the law or their actions will be used as evidence against them in court in the future.

Mr Suthep was the former leader of the now-dissolved People's Democratic Reform Committee, which spearheaded protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, culminating in the May 22, 2014 coup.

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