BANGKOK – Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of Thailand’s parliament house on Thursday calling for the National Legislative Assembly to adjust a draft proposal of the Petroleum Act to guarantee the establishment of a state-run energy company.
Members of the People’s Alliance for Energy Reform (PAER) gathered at the parliament house early Thursday morning, as they awaited a preliminary vote on the draft of the Petroleum Bill to be held in the House.
The Petroleum Bill was proposed by the Energy Ministry in 2016.
As it currently stands, the draft bill contains a clause on the establishment of the state-run National Oil Corporation, saying the NOC will be set up “when ready.”
However, protesters were demanding a clearer timeline, calling on the NLA to adjust the wording to read “immediately.”
Roongchai Janting, the PAER coordinator who organized the rally, said the NOC can ensure a fairer and more transparent energy operation in the country.
“We do not want NOC to be privatized. We want it to be 100 percent government run.”
The protest comes amid the junta’s ban on public gatherings.
According to Roongchai, the government has opposed the setting up of the NOC.
The Finance Ministry holds 51 percent of the country’s main energy conglomerate, PTT.
The group has questioned the PTT’s operation, saying it prevents the public from enjoying the full benefits of a national energy corporation.