ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Thai govt must learn to pay heed before things get out of hand
Publication Date : 13-09-2013
All sorts of people have taken to the streets to make their voices heard. More often than not, they cite their constitutional right to gather in public places, yet in many cases, this exercising of rights exceeds the legal limit and affects the rights of others.
The Constitution clearly states that a person - when exercising his or her constitutional rights - should in no way have an adverse impact on others.
A good example of this was the recent rubber-growers' protest in 14 provinces in south Thailand. They had been rallying for the government to increase the price of rubber and in a move to make themselves heard, the protesters closed parts of the road and railways in many provinces.
Of course, these rubber growers have every right to demand government action to help alleviate their sufferings, but their moves to exercise such rights should not adversely affect the rights of others.
The closure of roads and railways affected everybody from train commuters and motorists to patients in the south.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong raised the issue at a recent Cabinet meeting and suggested that relevant state agencies do something before the problem is taken to the streets.
Months before kicking off their rally, the rubber growers as well as opposition MPs from the South had raised the problem of falling rubber prices, but their complaints appeared to fall on deaf ears.
If the government had followed Kittiratt's suggestion and tackled the problem before it was taken to the streets, there would have been a less likely chance of roads and railways being blockaded.
Yet, closure or no closure, the one thing that is most important is sincerity - both the protesters and the government should be sincere about solving the problem and overcoming their mutual distrust.
The government should realise that it needs to resolve the problem and rise above the belief that its political enemies are behind every protest, while the protesters need to be more receptive in their talks with government representatives.
It is always a good idea for the powers that be to reach out to protesters before the issue hits the streets. After all, ignoring people's demands is likely to incite anger and worsen the situation.
Now that the rubber growers have achieved success, the government should brace itself for more demonstrations.
However, if it pays heed to Kittiratt's suggestion, it might be able to solve problems before other people's rights are affected adversely.