By THE NATION
Political activists Nuttaa Mahuttana and Sirawith Seritiwat led a demonstration at urban Nakhon Ratchasima’s most prominent landmark, the Thao Suranari Monument, to demand the election be held next month as previously mooted by the ruling junta.
A similar protest took place in Chiang Mai, led by pro-democracy activists Parit Chiwarak and Prasit Krutarot. They drew a crowd of at least 50 people dismayed that the election tentatively scheduled for February 24 could be delayed into March.
Anger is rising, with the government yet to offer a clear explanation, other than concern that the time needed to formalise the poll outcome could interfere with preparations for the coronation of His Majesty the King, an event now set for early May.
More demonstrations are planned for Sunday, at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok and at city halls in all 76 provinces.
Sirawith said the hundreds of people participating in the Korat protest on Tuesday was an indication that many Thais mistrust the generals and want to see the election take place next month.
The coup-installed government had offered no sound reason to further postpone the poll after at least five prior delays, Sirawith said, adding that citizens could no longer tolerate the current political situation.
A delayed election could also interfere with national university-entrance exams, stirring anger among high-school students who vented their annoyance on social media.
Because February 24 appeared to be the chosen election date, aptitude testing for high-school seniors that was slated for the same period had to be moved forward, to February 16-19. The likelihood of another date change has riled the students again after all the earlier bother. Some demanded that the testing be rescheduled for February 24 if the election wasn’t taking place that day.
Fresh student complaints were still appearing online yesterday – most bearing a hashtag in Thai that can be translated as “#delaymyass”.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that a clearer picture of the poll timing would emerge today.
He said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would today be meeting with the committee in charge of coronation preparations to discuss scheduling requirements.
Asked about the fuming high-school students, Wissanu said the agencies involved would consider testing them on February 24 if the election must be postponed.