PPRP distances itself from ex-member's complaint
Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has stepped away from an ex-member who filed a complaint to police against about 20 influencers for criticising the government on its handling of Covid-19.
The party has faced heavy criticism that it is stifling Thais' right to freedom of expression and siding with the wrong side. The government has come under widespread criticism, not just from celebrities.
Deputy Agriculture Minister and PPRP secretary-general Thamanat Prompow admitted the complainant, Sonthiya Sawatdee, was a former member of the party but said he has nothing to do with the party now.
"The difference of opinion does not damage the country. People, including stars, have the right to criticise and that will be a mirror for the government to improve its performance," he said.
Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, meanwhile, said the move by the influencers, including singers and TV stars, to express their dissatisfaction with the government is no problem as the government understands their concerns.
"However, they are influencers, and some of their statements may include incomplete information which can cause public misunderstandings and make it unfair to the other side," he said.
Mr Chaiwut on Wednesday cautioned influencers for spreading untrue information and fake news concerning the government's Covid-19 management. Mr Chaiwut said spreading fake news on the internet is a crime against national stability.
Mr Sonthiya on Wednesday urged police to investigate the influencer's comments. They included claims that the government's vaccination plan is unclear and the healthcare system is being mismanaged.
He said such criticism is "baseless", considered illegal under the Computer Crime Act, Emergency Decree, and Communicable Diseases Act.
Ponson Liengboonlertchai, a law lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said freedom of expression is a fundamental right of the people and endorsed by the constitution.
The government is a public entity which represents the citizens in doing its duty. It has a "duty" to listen to people's opinions, he said.