Student groups, opposition question extension to State of Emergency until end of July

Following proposals by the government on Thursday to extend the State of Emergency (SOE) for a third time until the end of July, student groups and opposition MPs have come out to question its necessity.

Somsak Rongsita, National Security Council Secretary-General, said on Thursday that the extension of the SOE would better facilitate Phase 5 of easing lockdown measures which will see a return to normalcy for the country.

Somsak added that the extension of the SOE was not politically motivated.

Opposition concerns

Despite assurances by Somsak, student protest leaders and an opposition MP told Thai Enquirer on Friday that they did not believe that an extension of the SOE was warranted.

“I think that it is not necessary now because for the past 30 days there have been only infections coming from abroad,” said Taopiphop Lim, a Move Forward MP. “This shows that it is under control and there is no need for the [SOE]. State mechanisms are able to function very well.”

Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a prominent student activist studying at Chulalongkorn University, told Thai Enquirer that he felt the SOE was no longer necessary.

“Besides controlling the protest, the government is extending the SOE to do things without being scrutinized. Even people that protest about Wanchalearm are said to violate the SOE. It gives the state legal grounds to [harass] people,” he said. “I believe that they trying to make the SOE as a new normal which would not end in July, but could be extended to the end of the year.”

Bunkueanun Paothong, a protest leader at Mahidol University, agreed with Netiwit and said that the SOE was a tool used by the government to control people.

“It no more than an attempt by the establishment to control the people,” he told Thai Enquirer. “Since the government does not have article 44 as they use to in the past, the SOE is their lifeline now.”

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