January 17, 2014 00:00 By Erich Parpart
Yesterday 28 business organisations proposed to the caretaker government that it reform the country's politics to solve the political turmoil at this time.
This is the first time this larger group of organisations has met to make proposals directly to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. A core group of seven major business bodies has already been mulling solutions to the current impasse.
While agreeing with “reform”, the larger group had different ideas of how to get there. Some of them also proposed setting a new date for the election, which has been authorised by His Majesty the King.
“We will meet to find the road map again,” Yingluck said.
However, proposals that are not legitimate would not be included in the final road map, she said.
She ordered the Political Development Council and her Permanent Secretary’s Office to set up the next reform meeting. She said she would invite different political parties.
The road maps presented to her include the reform plan and design from the core seven-member business group and one each from the National Economic and Social Advisory Council and the Political Development Council.
After a meeting with 18 other private-sector groups on January 9, the core group of seven business organisations came up with a reform design and was invited by Yingluck to present its result yesterday.
“The reform plan that we present today is not the idea of the seven organisations only. They are the suggestions of the 18 other organisations that we have compiled and prepared to present to the caretaker PM,” said Vichai Assarasakorn, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
The plan’s main point is to set up a committee that will have a clear reform road map. To reduce political tensions, prevent violence and promote reform, a new election date would be set and a government formed whose main responsibility would be to work on reform for one year.
The first proposal is for a committee to be set up with the main responsibilities of organising a reform forum, facilitating the reform movement and compiling while prioritising the reform topics.
The reform operation should be “inclusive” by ensuring that all players can suggest their ideas for reform. The way to choose which reform is needed and which is most important is through a referendum.
The reform topics suggested by the 25 organisations are the political and bureaucratic system, administration and decentralisation, corruption, inequality and injustice, resources distribution and management, justice system, economic system, and national knowledge system (education, research and communication).
The second suggestion is for political parties to create a contract and agree to set up a government whose sole responsibility is to work on reform for one year before the next election.
The third suggestion from the seven private organisations is to delay the election and the fourth is to change the structure of the caretaker government by urging the prime minister to quit her post as caretaker and set up a national government composed of coalition parties.
Opas Tepalakul, chairman of the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, suggested that a selection committee be set up to find 50 middlemen that every side respects to suggest 10 topics of reform. Five representatives from the government and five from the private sector should suggest 200 names each. Out of the 400, the names that are repeated on both lists will be selected out. If there are 50 similar names, they will be selected for the reform committee. If there are more than that, then the members will be selected by raffle.
After 10 reform topics have been selected by the committee, the topics will have to go through a national referendum to prioritise them.
Opas also suggested that all political parties should have a contract binding them to begin the reforms that have been suggested by the people’s referendum.
Teerapat Serirangsan, chairman of the Political Development Council, also suggested a reform plan. The caretaker PM should resign to pave the way for another caretaker government, which would stage a national referendum to find out if the people want to reform now or after the election. If they want to reform now, a “people’s parliament” should be set up to oversee the reform process and then resign when it’s done.
“If the people want the election first then we should have the election to find the new members of parliament.
“If we have a national referendum the [People’s Democratic Reform Committee] would not be able to claim that they are representing the voice of the country and it [the PM’s quitting] is the best way to solve the current political situation.
“The caretaker PM should sacrifice for the country,” he said.