Charter battle, graft worry Thais this year: Poll
Many Thais fear that constitutional amendment and corruption could ignite a new round of political conflict in 2013, a survey by Abac Poll has found.Some 1,750 respondents around the Kingdom were asked on December 30 and 31 what they saw as the most likely catalyst of political conflict this year. Noppadol Kannikar, director of Abac Poll, said the biggest group, 34.7 per cent, chose constitutional amendment.
This was followed by 29.3 per cent of respondents who picked corruption among people close to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra as the most worrisome cause of political conflict for 2013. Another 12.6 per cent of respondents pointed to preferential treatment and lack of justice.
A total of 8.3 per cent of respondents feared conflict would most likely stem from the rising cost of living, while only 5.4 per cent picked the national reconciliation bill and 4.6 per cent said the government's failure on policies such as rice subsidies and the Bt300 minimum wage. The smallest group of respondents, or 5.1 per cent, stated that drugs and use of farmland were the biggest concerns.
Asked how they saw the general trends for society in 2013, a majority - 67.4 per cent - of respondents still hoped the political situation would improve, while 32.6 per cent expressed fear as to what may be in store for the country.
Asked what they wished to see most from politicians in 2013, 53.7 per cent of respondents said they wished politicians would apply His Majesty the King's advice to tackle society's problems earnestly, while 21.2 of respondents said honesty was what they wished to see. Almost 16 per cent of respondents said they wanted to see politicians sincerely try to solve problems facing citizens, while 5.2 per cent stated that politicians should carry out their duty while being grateful to the nation. At the bottom of the list, 1.7 per cent of respondents said they wanted part of the wealth possessed by politicians to be distributed to the people.
In a related development, Opposition Leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government should review its stance on pushing for charter amendment and urged it to beware of corruption.
"The best gift the government could give to the people is to drop all preconditions that could lead to conflict, and move beyond the concerns about [ousted and fugitive former prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra and the introduction of a national reconciliation bill, and instead work to solve people's problems," Abhisit said.
"Issues that are in conflict should be left to the judiciary to sort out. This would be the best thing, and I want the government to return politics to normalcy and allow past conflicts to go through the judicial process.
"If the government wants to amend the charter, I suggest that it amends it to make it more democratic, but with no hidden agenda, which I believe all parties are willing to discuss." Abhisit added that national reconciliation should be achieved by following the recommendations of the now-defunct Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai MP Samart Kaewmeechai of Chiang Rai, who was a member of a committee set up to consider the amendment of Section 291 of the charter, acknowledged that it was difficult to amend the Constitution successfully.