Thai Foreign Minister assures diplomatic corps of Government’s efforts to maintain peace during on-going demonstrations
Foreign Minister Kasit reiterated the government's position that, with a view to resolving peacefully the current situation, it was prepared to sit down with leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to discuss any issues pertaining to the future of Thailand's political regime, with only two exceptions. The first is the issue regarding former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, as this concerns the justice and legal process so there could not be a judicial compromise. The second is UDD’s pre-condition about the dissolution of the House of Representatives, as the Government could not accept extra-parliamentary means such as the pressure from demonstrators. Also, within the parliamentary framework itself, the opposition has already expressed its intention to file a motion for a no-confidence debate against the Government. He further added that the Government has accepted offers from the National Human Rights Commission and a group of senators to facilitate such talks.
Referring to the concern of the Government over the protest leaders’ use of certain terminologies, such as “amataya”, or aristocrats, and “phrai”, or commoners, the Foreign Minister said that such words were feudalistic and that such a class distinction no longer exists in Thailand where people today enjoy the same rights and freedoms under the democratic system, with access to basic services improving constantly. He stressed in particular that the present Government intends to lead the country towards becoming a real socially-based welfare state, and close economic and social gaps that remain.
In response, the diplomatic corps commended the Government for its effort to maintain peace and order. A number of diplomats, however, expressed concern that the ongoing demonstrations may affect the convening of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Bangkok to be held from 27 March to 1 April 2010. In this regard, Foreign Minister Kasit reassured the diplomats that the Royal Thai Government would provide all the necessary security to ensure that the conference proceeds smoothly, noting also that political demonstrations in Thailand have never targeted or harmed foreigners. The Foreign Minister added that security agencies have learned from past experiences, and this Government – in working closely with the police and the military – would take full responsibility for providing security to foreigners and Thai citizens alike.
As for the extension of the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA), Foreign Minister Kasit said that this would be considered by the Cabinet on 23 March 2010, adding that if extended, its coverage would be reduced to specific areas only as necessary. Meanwhile, the operation centre at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to serve as a contact point for foreign embassies and international organizations on a 24-hour basis in case they need further information or assistance.
(updated from the information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand)