PM to students: Save your power for the future

PM to students: Save your power for the future

New Democracy Movement activists sit in a mock-up of a prison cell outside Thammasat University to dramatise their call for the release of 14 students jailed for flouting the ban on political gatherings. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
New Democracy Movement activists sit in a mock-up of a prison cell outside Thammasat University to dramatise their call for the release of 14 students jailed for flouting the ban on political gatherings. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has told dissident students to save their "pure" power for future use and wait for his government to lay down foundations for quality democracy and sustainable peace in the country.

"As for the student activists, I will not reprimand or blame them for the actions," Gen Prayut said in his weekly Returning Happiness to Thai People broadcast on Friday night.

"It doesn't matter which group they are from, I see them all as a 'source of purity' who have the ability to greatly benefit this country in the future.

"Please use your discretion and avoid being misled by those trying to use you by giving you false information."

Public support has been growing for 14 students who have been jailed since last Friday on charges of sedition and illegal assembly after they staged an anti-coup protest a day earlier.

The military junta continues to maintain that the students are being used by anti-government political elements but insists that they will be treated fairly under the law.

Gen Prayut said in his speech on Friday that the previous democratic system had problems and needed to be fixed.

He also said that the country was still facing an abnormal situation and that calls for early democracy with problems left unresolved would do no good, but would simply bring a return to the chaos that existed before the military seized power in May last year.

"If we immediately want a democracy as well as a peaceful and resilient society with all our problems solved within a short period of time, this is not plausible because time is needed," he said.

"Please understand this. All I ask for is your patience. If we start fighting each other again, things will go back to the way they were."

An election will take place when conditions start to reflect what is planned in the national reform roadmap, he said. That means the passage of a new constitution, a public referendum and organic laws. He assured his listeners that the next election was not far in the future.

A referendum on the charter, if it is approved next month by the National Reform Committee, is now expected in January but the timeline for an election is not yet clear.

Gen Prayut urged student activists to obey rules and laws, do their duty and protect their good profiles for the sake of their own future.

"You cannot simply reject the rules or disregard the law. If you can do so, what about everybody else? If everyone refuses to abide by the laws and regulations, then there would be lawlessness. This is known as a failed state."

If protesting students understand and agree to cooperate, their cases would be taken care of, the prime minister said, referring to those detained.

The best thing that activist students could do, he said, was to fight for the public interest.

"If we are still living amid conflict and quarrelling, and persist with rushing this issue or any other issue without reason, all of our efforts to strengthen and build a new system since May 22 last year will be wasted," Gen Prayut said.

He also said that most countries now understood Thailand's situation and pressure against his government had eased, except for that caused by former Thai politicians who acted at the cost of the nation.

He stressed that his government was also preparing systems under which politicians could work in the future, and that they should not obstruct its work for the time being.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (19)

Holiday season brings little cheer for Hong Kong businesses

Hong Kong's tourism, retail and dining sectors are bracing for the most dismal Christmas season in decades, a slump brought on by what some see as the city's worst political crisis since its return to the mainland in 1997.

9 Dec 2019

Ex-Swedish envoy indicted in HK bookseller case

STOCKHOLM: Prosecutors in Sweden said Monday the country's former ambassador to China has been indicted for unauthorised contacts with a foreign power for organising a meeting in Stockholm between the daughter of a Swedish publisher detained in China, China's ambassador and two businessmen about the possible release of her father.

9 Dec 2019

Police: No signs of life at island eruption site

SYDNEY: New Zealand police said they do not expect to find any more survivors on a volcanic island off the country's North Island where an eruption earlier Monday killed at least five people, according to local media reports.

9 Dec 2019