Thailand’s cabinet and its emergency covid response center said on Wednesday it will extend the State of Emergency act by one month despite activists and protesters demanding its end.
The government has said that the coronavirus situation remains precarious and that the emergency decree is needed to ensure close cooperation between intergovernmental agencies and to restrict the movement of people into the country.
Despite the existence of the decree, government slip ups have resulted in the partial closure of Rayong province after an administrative error saw Egyptian officials avoiding state quarantine and enter the country. An Egyptian official later tested positive for the virus.
Political analysts and activists have also questioned the extension of the decree as Thailand has not seen a coronavirus case outside of state quarantine in two months.
“You have to question why they would need to use this decree considering they haven’t seen a case in the public in two months,” said Arun Saronchai, a Thai political analysts.
“It begs the question whether they are using the law as a shield against growing public discontent and the rising number of protests.”
The emergency act has been used by police and other security officials in the past to end protests or arrest protesters, who they say are endangering public health by congregating in large numbers.
Student activists and leaders argue that the emergency act is an excuse for a government unaccustomed to direct challenges to its rule and unwilling to allow the freedom of speech and protest.
Political rallies this weekend in Bangkok and around the country drew in thousands of people as protesters demanded that the military-backed government resign and/or re-draft a constitution which gives the army the ability to appoint the entire 250-member upper house of parliament.