Commerce bans amnesty protests
- Published: 5 Nov 2013 at 21.20
- Online news:
Commerce Ministry officials have been told that they are free to express their position on the amnesty bill anywhere except on ministry property.
About 200 Commerce Ministry staff rally against the amnesty bill near their office in Sanambin Nam on Tuesday. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Srirat Rastapana, the ministry's permanent secretary, issued the order on Tuesday, saying the amnesty bill was a sensitive issue that could bring about rifts among her officials and staff.
They have the right to air their opinion but they have to do it outside the ministry, after work and without using any Commerce Ministry signs or logos, she added.
The permanent secertary for Commerce is not happy after staff used the ministry's sign as a backdrop for their protest.
The order followed a gathering by about 100 staff who held an anti-amnesty banner and blew whistles in front of the ministry sign at its headquarters in Sanambin Nam, Nonthaburi, on Monday.
The protest led Mrs Srirat to call a meeting with senior officials to seek common understanding and cooperation to remind their subordinates that they should not use the workplace to air political views.
She said would not punish those who took part in Monday's event.
"They did not do anything wrong in coming out to oppose the attempt to issue the amnesty bill," she said. "The problem was the appropriateness as they were wearing the hats of civil servants.
"Taking a political position is the right of all individuals but it should be done after work and not in the office."
Ministry staff staged another protest for 30 minutes on Tuesday evening, including whistle blowing, and received loud cheers from passers-by.
Jatuporn Wattanasuwan, a ministry official said she had the right to express herself. "Please be clear that we do not oppose the government but it is the substance of the bill that we disagree with," she said.
This time the rally took place after working hours and outside the workplace, 200 metres away from the entrance to the ministry on Sanambin Nam road.
And the number of protesters doubled to 200.