February 09, 2014 00:00 By The Sunday Nation 6,023 Viewed
Peace advocate says members should not be chosen by govt
A high-profile peace advocate has called for an independent royal committee to be established to launch the national reform process.
Mahidol University lecturer Gothom Arya urged caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to endorse the proposal and present it to His Majesty the King so the committee was recognised by law.
Speaking yesterday at an annual conference organised by King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Gothom said the committee’s members would not be chosen by the government and could only be removed by the courts.
Gothom is critical of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s attempt to create an unelected “people’s council” to steer the country, labelling the proposal vague.
However, he did not say how the royal committee’s members would be selected.
He labelled the PDRC’s demand for a neutral prime minister to be appointed as unconstitutional because the current charter required the prime minister to be an MP.
He urged the Yingluck administration to lift the emergency decree to create an environment of trust.
Various views on the current political crisis gripping the country were aired at the conference including a warning that the use the Facebook by Thais has led to more political and social divisions.
Sorasak Ngamcachonkulkid, a lecturer at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, said Facebook had become a divisive tool in the current political climate, with people quarrelling on the Internet instead of using it as a platform for exchanging constructive ideas. Sorasak urged non-political extremists on both sides to talk.
At the same time, he said the role of political extremists should be reduced in order to create a climate for negotiation. He said that extremists wanted to become “heroes” by insisting on their rigid stances.
Thammasat University political scientist Nakarin Mektrairat believed the current political impasse would end within three to four months and urged public to persevere.
Nakarin did not explain how he thought the deadlock would be resolved, but believes political violence has reached an “acceptable” level.
“People should play a part in seeking a solution and even though we don’t see the way out yet, I believe we can if we persevere for three to four more months,” he said.
In a related development, various medical groups supporting the PDRC met yesterday to solidify the PDRC’s reform proposals. PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thuagsuban said the groups came up with five reform ideas that centred on the political process, graft and corruption, decentralisation of government, social and economic inequity, and judicial reform.
Suthep reiterated that the Yingluck administration had no hope of staying in power – it was just a matter of time before the administration crumbled.
He said a transitional government running the country for 18 months would ensure that reform would take place.
The transitional prime minister, cabinet members and reform committee members would not be allowed to contest an election for two terms once the transitional government was disbanded to avoid conflict of interests.
Suthep urged business groups to help the PDRC establish a reform agenda for the business sector.
He conceded however that their apprehension to do that might be due to the uncertainty about who will win in the current conflict.
Poldej Pinpratheep, a former cabinet member under the junta-appointed Surayud Chulalont administration and a medical doctor, facilitated the meeting between the medical groups and the PDRC.
Poldej said all parties must be invited to participation in the reform process. The PDRC plans to hold its second round of reform discussions on Tuesday, insisting that its proposals will be tangible. Participants at the meeting will be divided into four groups: academics, professionals, civil servants and legal experts.
King Prajadhipok’s Institute will embark on a study on how to introduce Buddhist religious teachings, or dhamma, in politics and present its findings in early November, said Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of the Institute.
Bowornsak said Thai democracy is in trouble because people are too materialistic. Dhamma, he said, should lead politics. The study, which will be led by a deputy secretary-general of the institute, will be divided into three areas with three questions being posed: what kind of reform is needed, how to reform and how to make the reform acceptable.