Cabinet Decides to Extend Virus Emergency Rule for 2nd Time

Parliament workers on May 26, 2020, arrange lawmakers' seats apart from each other in preparation for a reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.

UPDATE: A government spokeswoman said on Tuesday afternoon that the Cabinet has voted to extend the Emergency Decree, though the PM wasn’t available for comments.

BANGKOK — The government is set to deliberate on whether the emergency rule should be extended for the second time today, as voices for the decree to be lifted grew louder.

The Emergency Decree, which was already extended once in late April, will expire at the end of May unless prolonged by the Cabinet on Tuesday. Government officials say the decree is necessary to coordinate different agencies in combating the virus, but critics suspect a sinister motive

Pichai Rattanadilok na Phuket, the rep of a democracy advocacy group, said it’s no longer “appropriate or necessary” to extend the decree. He said efforts to combat the virus should rely on a strong public healthcare system and not special powers invested in the government.

Read: Emergency Decree to be Extended, No New Virus Case Reported

Pichai also warned that a prolonged emergency power will affect freedom of the public as well as the economy. 

The People’s Network for 5 Regions, an NGO campaigning for community rights, petitioned the Prime Minister on Tuesday morning calling for the emergency decree to be revoked. 

The network said the rights and liberty of the people have been violated by the decree.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a former national security head under the government ousted by PM Prayuth in 2014, also questioned why the decree is still needed when the virus situation has improved in recent weeks.

“In reality, it is being used to deal with all sorts of demonstrators,” Paradorn said.

Two people were arrested on Friday for leading an anti-government protest in downtown Bangkok. A police spokesman later said the pair was detained because they posed a public health risk.