University meet to go ahead

Pravit Rojanaphruk –“The Nation”

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The Thai Social Forum, a major meeting of 300 social and political activists, will be held in October despite last week's coup and the ban on any political gathering of more than five persons, organisers said yesterday.

Jon Ungphakorn, a member of the organising committee, said the three-day event will take place at Thammasat University's Rangsit Campus from October 21 to 23. He hoped that a new civilian government would be in place by that time and that people would be allowed to debate freely.

The issues to be discussed during the event, which is a scaled-down version of the World Social Forum, such as the one held in Bombay in 2004, cover many topics ranging from rural development, political reform, social equality, human rights to democracy and more.

"Our stress will be on media reform and press freedom," said Jon, a former Bangkok senator.

Participation is expected from across the Kingdom and some foreign delegates are expected as well.

"We adhere to democratic principles and will not tell any of the participants what they can or cannot do," said Jon, adding that the organising group, comprising some 40 NGOs, has no hidden political motive. "There may be people who oppose the coup or some who may have voted for the Thai Rak Thai Party. But we have no rules for participation."