8 August 2023
A group of activists staged a protest at the Ministry of Culture on Sunday (6 August) to demand that Senator and poet Naowarat Pongpaiboon be removed from his position as a national artist for abstaining during the vote for Prime Minister.
Protesters were seen wearing masks and holding signs criticizing the Senate. They also lit smoke flares and spray-painted the sidewalk in front of the Ministry.
The gates to the Ministry were closed ahead of the protest. There were also reports that crowd control police had been stationed around the area since early afternoon.
Activist Netiporn Sanesangkhom said that the group are planning on protests to demand the resignation of the Senate, and decided to start with Naowarat, who she said is a hypocrite and a liar because he said he would vote for a Prime Minister candidate nominated by the majority in the House of Representatives only to turn around and abstain from voting when Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat was nominated.
During the vote for Prime Minister, an abstention is counted together with the votes against. A senator or member of the House of Representative would only have to vote to approve the candidate to be counted as an approval.
Netiporn asked whether Naowarat deserves the position of national artist, which carries a stipend from taxpayers’ money. She said that they will not be filing petitions because they have done so before with political parties and government agencies, but the petitions led to nothing, so they will be taking other action instead. #