Opposition to stage external 'censure' forums

Opposition to stage external 'censure' forums

The six-party opposition will launch the first "censure debate" outside of parliament on Thursday, with a focus on the government’s alleged use of so-called information operations (IOs) to smear its opponents.

Held under the theme “Opposition For the People”, a number of forums will be held in major provinces across the country, which will focus on answers given by the censure targets during the four-day grilling in late February.

Anusorn Iamsa-ard, spokesman of the Pheu Thai Party, said speakers at the first forum will discuss the concept of IOs, the use of state funds to finance such operations, the computer crime law and the impact of IOs on its targets.

Among the speakers scheduled to speak at the forum are Lt Gen Paradorn Pattanathabut, adviser of the Pheu Thai Party; Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a list-MP of the now-disbanded Future Forward Party; Thai People Power Party leader Nikhom Boonwiset; human rights activist Angkhana Neelapaijit; and Omar Noon-anant, coordinator of We Watch group.

The forum is open to the public. Mr Anusorn said due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19 virus, the number of guests at the planned venue will be limited. However, he added, the session will be live-streamed.

It remains unclear where the forum will be held. 

Prachachart Party secretary-general, Thawee Sodsong, said the opposition cannot let the government off the hook because the alleged activities violate human rights, causes hatred and divides communities. 

The alleged use of IOs by the government was among the highlight of last month's censure debate against the government. Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) admitted to carrying out IOs, but denied waging a “cyberwar” on activists, academics and politicians working for peace in the deep South.

Phumtham Wechayachai, adviser to opposition leader Sompong Amornwiwat, said yesterday the forum is a continuation of the opposition's scrutiny of cabinet ministers, now that the House is adjourned. 

He said opposition MPs are doing their jobs as representatives of the people and thus its role is not limited to fulfilling its tasks in parliament.

"We're doing our part to maintain the checks-and-balances," he said.

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