RED-SHIRT leader Jatuporn Prompan vowed yesterday to keep the group’s anti-fraud centres active by using social media, despite them being banned by the junta. The junta, in turn, warned him further activities could break the law.
A plan by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to broadcast the kick-off of its referendum fraud-monitoring centres nationwide live via its “Peace TV” channel yesterday was foiled. Police stormed into the station’s studio at Imperial World shopping centre in Lat Phrao in Bangkok, to stop its activities.
The police, led by Chokchai Station chief Pol Col Supol Kamchu, told the station to stop all its activities as they would breach the National Council for Peace and Order’s ban on political gatherings of five people and more. The red-shirt activists were ordered to leave the studio before the police occupied the venue.
Jatuporn said: “Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is unreliable because the PM earlier allowed the anti-fraud centres to be set up. But eventually the junta made a U-turn and barred the red-shirt operation.”
He said although officers had occupied anti-fraud centres in Bangkok and provinces – where supporters who ran the fraud centres were arrested – the red shirts would not back down from their plan.
“The centres have been open since June 5 and will continue to gather referendum fraud complaints from the people through online channels.”
EC to monitor Facebook for ‘offences’
The Technology Crime Suppression Division, Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Election Committee (EC) resolved last week to set up a committee to monitor the use of online media to disseminate messages regarding the referendum. The committee also aims to suppress online offences.
National Council for Peace and Order spokesman Col Piyapong Klinpan said the NCPO and the EC were closely monitoring the UDD’s anti-fraud centre Facebook page on whether it breaks the law by inciting moves to involve the public. Piyapong said the UDD’s stepping up of its activities on social media after its centre had been shut down was not beyond what the NCPO had expected. He said the council would tread carefully taking action against the UDD’s FB page because it did not want to stir public sympathy as that is what the UDD wanted.
The UDD’s anti-fraud FB page now has 1522 ‘likes’ since it started on June 5, the same day when the centre was established at its headquarters in Lat Phrao.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai executive Chaturon Chaisang said the forced closure of the anti-fraud centres was illegitimate, as their operations were not violating any law, including the referendum bill. The UDD merely wanted to gather information on possible fraud and was not assembling for any political reason, he said, referring to the NCPO order prohibiting gatherings of five or more people.
“It signifies that people cannot engage with the plebiscite process at all. They can’t even exchange information,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jatuporn will meet with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights today to discuss rights issues as the country heads to the August referendum on a charter draft.
Jatuporn warned that if the junta did not allow people to take part in the referendum, Prayut would end up like General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the former prime minister who took office during the ‘Black May’ uprising in 1992 and was ousted by protesters following major bloodshed.
Police and military officers yesterday shut down UDD’s fraud watch centres across the country.
National Security Council secretary-general Thawip Netniyom also said yesterday that the UDD plan to open referendum anti-fraud centres has hidden motives. “They are trying to get publicity, which is not right. If they want to ensure fairness and transparency, they can just ring the officials to tip them off about any irregularities,” he said.