Police question Thai politicians who criticized junta
BANGKOK — Supporters of eight prominent Thai politicians who criticized the country’s ruling junta shouted “Fight, fight” as the group arrived Monday at a Bangkok police station for questioning.
Police are investigating the members of the Pheu Thai party, which was the governing party ousted in a 2014 coup, after they held a news conference last week on the junta’s performance despite a police warning not to proceed.
Phumtham Wechayachai, the party’s secretary-general, said Monday that nothing they’d done had broken the law.
“Only three of our party members spoke about the government’s performance for the last four years and how unsuccessful they are. Why would that be counted as an overthrow [of the government] or an incitement? To give us trouble and dissolve our party? I don’t think that the government dares to do so under the watchful eyes of the people,” he said.
Junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the coup and is now prime minister, has said elections will be held next February but is not widely believed after repeatedly reneging on earlier promised poll dates.
Tuesday is the fourth anniversary of a coup that was initially welcomed in some quarters for halting months of street protests. But even former coup supporters are increasingly dissatisfied with the junta as corruption scandals and broken promises of reform and reconciliation pile up.
Since the coup, the junta has dominated political life, banning political party activities and outlawing any political gathering of five or more people.
The Pheu Thai members under police investigation include Noppadon Pattama, a former foreign minister, and Chaturon Chaisang, a former education minister.
Pheu Thai is allied with Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire populist prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad in self-imposed exile. His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, headed the government ousted in 2014.
At the news conference, party members attacked the junta for failing to solve economic problems, violating human rights and paying lip service to promises to combat corruption and heal the country’s deep political divide. They said it is the duty of all Thais to “not allow dictatorship to destroy our democracy.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.