PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday defended the government’s decision to confiscate Songkran handouts from politicians, |saying he has to govern without political discrimination.
“Are people in great trouble? They don’t have bowls to take a bath with, they do not have medicine? You must try to understand me. I have to keep the country peaceful,” he explained.
Prayut said politicians will have the right to distribute handouts when they rise to power. “Everyone wants to get attention and raise his or her profile. Is it close to election time? Believe me, when a general election approaches, this activity will intensify. This is not the time to hand out stuff. Why don’t you give out water?”
The National Council for Peace and Order also defended its move to confiscate boxes of non-prescription medicine that featured stickers depicting Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and towels handed out by party representatives ahead of Songkran.
Spokesman Col Piyapong Klinpan said the NCPO policy was to enforce equally without prejudice the law against the distribution of items deemed to demonstrate symbolic political expressions that could lead to national division and frustration. He said it was not the right time to distribute symbolic political items as it could lead to conflict.
Abhisit said in response that the party had been handing out boxes of non-prescription medicine and towels since last year. Some of these items were confiscated a few days ago from the home of the party’s former MP Preecha Musikul.
After, Abhisit said he had instructed party members not to hand out eyeglasses, calendars or other items. “These items have no political symbolism that would be a threat to national security, but we are ready to cooperate,” he said.
Former Democrat MP Warong Dechgitvigrom disapproved of the NCPO move saying the party had no political motive. He said the council could not compare the medicine with red bowls distributed by Pheu Thai. “Though the items may have been considered to carry some symbolic expression, you have to look at the intention. We just want to show people we care and have no intent to instigate any political turmoil.”