Originally aired on Channel NewsAsia on April 4, 2018
The Pheu Thai Party is holding its pre-Songkran meeting, calling for all its members to re-register this year in the runup of democratic elections. But while this is the first time political parties can assemble again, they still can't do everything.
This meeting signals the slow, the very slow thawing of political activity since the military coup of 2014 that has sidelined the political parties.
Before the coup this would have been a usual Thai New Year’s reception by the party, and they did hold a Songkran ceremony blessing their most senior members, like it is tradition in any Thai family or company.
but since the beginning of this month the military government has allowed the existing political parties to re-register their members as preparations for democratic elections are slowly, very slowly underway.
However, any activity beyond that, such as party meetings or even campaigning is still not allowed by the military government. That is something that is hampering all political parties and that is something they want to get changed ASAP.
PHUMTHAM WECHYACHAI; Secretary-General, Pheu Thai Party:
“The most important thing would be if the [restriction] orders are revoked, there’s no reason to keep them. There are many things in [NCPO] order no. 53 that is contradicting itself and that are problematic. They may have fully stated their case and interpretations about that, but the problem still is that there’s no reason to uphold, not to revoke order no. 53”
Earlier this week, Thai PM Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has indicated that he would adjust some of the restrictions but would still not lift them entirely until further notice.
Democratic elections have been repeatedly delayed since 2014. The latest date is set for no later than February 2019 - and by that time they’d be in power longer than most elected government in recent Thai history.