Prayut Orders Survey on Lifting Virus Emergency Decree

Security officials at a COVID-19 screening checkpoint in Chachoengsao province.
Security officials at a COVID-19 screening checkpoint in Chachoengsao province.

BANGKOK — Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a public survey to gather opinions on whether the emergency decree should be lifted, officials said Monday.

National security official Gen. Somsak Rungsita said the survey will be conducted by the National Intelligence Agency and the Internal Security Operation Command. It will cover questions regarding the next phase of business reopenings and public opinion on emergency decree, he said.

“The results from the survey will only be part of the factors to decide whether to revoke the emergency decree,” Somsak said. “We also have to consider the health and safety of citizens.”

Somsak said the decree is likely to be lifted by the end of May. However, he said this depends on many factors, especially how well citizens and businesses cooperate with the hygiene measures and the number of new cases of coronavirus infection reported in the country.

“The decree has to be eventually revoked. It can’t stay forever,” Somsak said. “Please don’t link it to politics since the enactment of emergency decree is purely for the health of citizens.”

But even a coalition politician was wary of the survey. Deputy leader of the Democrat Party Ongart Klampaiboon said the government should assign academics to conduct the questionnaire instead of intelligence agencies.

“The methodology is important to make the survey acceptable to everyone,” Ongart said. “But if it is conducted perfunctory or is politically motivated, it can cause more economic and social problems.”