The government was again accused of running an illicit propaganda campaign against its critics yesterday, as the opposition launched its mobile "censure debates".
A group of opposition MPs working to promote public participation in politics gathered at a Bangkok hotel to launch the first in a series of debates targeting the Prayut administration.
Prachachart Party secretary-general Thawee Sodsong accused the government of using taxpayers' money to sow division in society through its so-called Information Operations (IO). He described the IO campaign as a "crime".
According to Mr Thawee, during this fiscal year, about 2 billion baht has been set aside to fund government public relations, another 8 billion baht for training, more than 10 billion baht for security work and the other 10 billion baht for security operations in the South.
These budgets were in reality abused to fund IOs with an intent to generate hatred among communities, he said.
Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn, a Move Forward Party (MFP) party-list MP and spokesman, said the online world had grown more peaceful since he had exposed the government's IO campaign during last month's censure debate in parliament. The MFP is the new vehicle for MPs from the disbanded Future Forward Party.
In last month's censure debate, Mr Wiroj accused the Internal Security Operations Command of abusing its budget to fund IOs against government critics. He repeated his claim yesterday, accusing the government of generating hatred with the ultimate goal of dividing society.
He said young people recruited for the government IOs were working in two or three groups at offices in Bangkok. These people used their real names to praise the opposition, while using fake accounts to attack the opposition daily, he said.
Angkhana Neelapaijit, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said she was disappointed that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had failed to respond to questions about IOs raised in last month's debate.
She said has also been targeted, citing her recent visit to a demonstration at Thammasat University, saying undercover officials had taken photos of her, posted them online and accused her of being behind the anti-government rally.