Parliament 'must engage protesters'

Parliament 'must engage protesters'

MPs call for students' concerns to be heard

Political parties on Wednesday urged parliament to engage student activists protesting against the government in a process organised in such a way to allow them to communicate their concerns.

Chakkrapan Pornnimit, a Palang Pracharath Party MP for Bangkok, filed an urgent motion proposing the House of Representatives discuss the possibility of allowing the protesters to have their political opinions heard through parliament.

The Lower House combined this specific motion with similar ones filed by other parties, namely the Move Forward Party, Pheu Thai Party, Democrat Party and Bhumjaithai Party.

Mr Chakkrapan said he filed a similar motion in February, when many university students previously rallied against the government, and a similar situation was happening again. "I want parliament to be a neutral mechanism to connect to those youths and listen to their opinions," he said.

This may begin immediately as a House committee is studying the possibility of rewriting the 2017 constitution, Mr Chakkrapan added.

He felt the students didn't actually want to take their concerns to the streets and would prefer to debate with the government.

Move Forward Party list MP Amarat Chokepamitkul, however, argued that just providing a forum for students to express their political opinions wouldn't be enough.

The government also needed to agree to ensure protect their rights and freedoms.

Ms Amarat accused the government of constantly threatening those rights, citing as evidence the government's constant extensions of the emergency decree, which she likened to repeating the military coup.

Democrat Party list MP Issara Sereewatthanawut proposed a special House committee be set up and allowed to include students from various universities.

It should also be allowed to take part in drafting legislation, which would help curb injustice in society, he said.

A group of Kasetsart University students, meanwhile, plans to rally at the university tomorrow, while Mahasarakham University has announced it is forbidding its campus being used for political gatherings, as had been indicated by a group of students there.

The university cited concerns over possible virus transmission and its need to comply with the emergency decree as reasons to prohibit the campus being used for this purpose.

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