Originally aired at Channel NewsAsia on June 25, 2018
Democratic elections are possibly going to be delayed yet again, as the military government discusses with political party the way forward.
It is somewhat an ironic choice of location here at the Army Club in Bangkok, the very same place where Thailand’s military launched the coup of 2014 and practically suspended electoral democracy ever since.
Four years later, the very same military government has invited all political parties that have been sidelined since the coup to this place in order to discuss about the future of democracy in Thailand.
And there’s a lot to discuss, the political parties have a long list of complaints to the military government about the restrictions they are under: there’s the ban of public assemblies of more than 5, there’s the fact that they can’t campaign and openly talk about their policies
73 parties have attended the meeting, but notably absent are the Pheu Thai Party, whose government have been toppled at this very venue here.
The hope by the parties is that the government will say at least when these restrictions will be relaxed to what extend. However, there’s no indication that there’ll be a complete lift of these bans:
WISSANU KRUEA-NGAM; Thai Deputy Prime Ministe:
“Only a few things that we can’t comply with like public assemblies of more than 5. What we can is [to allow political parties] to hold general assemblies - for which they don’t need a permission - in order to 1) draft their rules and policies, 2) gather members, 3) give feedback to the Election Commission’s drawing of the election districts and 4) prepare for the primaries.”
Those bans are expected to be lifted for September to December this year.
Now, what happens with the election date that has been tentative set for February next year?
Well, because of many steps that need to taken and the many legal technicalities the military government said the exact election date is expect to be held Feb 24 and May 5, which could indicate yet another delay of elections, which wouldn’t be the first time under this Thai military government.
Saksith Saiyasombut, Channel NewsAsia, Bangkok