March 11, 2014 00:00 By Pravit Rojanaphruk The Nation
Discussion focuses on six issues, with poverty, social disparity the top two
The anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) launched its first forum on national reform yesterday, relying on input from key public figures and a reform panel set up under the previous government.
Poldej Pinprateep, a member of the reform panel that was formerly led by social critic Prawase Wasi and a member of the Cabinet member under the military-appointed administration, chaired the meeting yesterday.
Poldej, who was sitting next to PDRC secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban at the Lumpini Park Youth Centre, said discussions would be based on the findings of the reform panel under the previous government, adding that the discussion this time would cover six issues .
He reckoned that this round would take up to two weeks.
Of the six topics touched upon yesterday, the first one was poverty and social disparity.
Five experts were allotted seven minutes each to offer a proposal on how they would tackle the issues, while PDRC members were granted three minutes each.
Suthep clarified that the findings on the six issues would be presented to a “People’s Assembly” and adopted by a non-elected, interim government once Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration has been ousted.
However, with this process only involving PDRC supporters, the question that comes to mind is whether it can ever be adopted without resistance from the red shirts.
Chokchuang Chutinaton, a 69-year-old paediatrician and hardcore PDRC supporter, said the focus should be on removing the current administration and then putting in place reforms.
“When an army defeats [its opponents], it doesn’t invite the conquered [to take part in rebuilding]. When we win, we won’t involve those who have lost, other than youngsters, whom we can train.
“Pardon me, I’m not saying we’re perfect either,” Chokchuang said, adding that PDRC’s victory was a certainty because “good always prevails”.
Another proposal by speakers yesterday was the introduction of a progressive land tax. Speaker Prayong Doklamyai pointed out that politicians from the opposition Democrat Party owned more land in total compared to their peers from other parties. Pheu Thai Party came in second.
It was also proposed that the Justice Fund be better financed so more poor people can have access to bail rights and the appointment of a defence lawyer.
Labour leader Wilaiwan Sae Tia proposed that the social welfare fund also cover those in the non-formal sector, while a speaker suggested that a National Savings Fund be created to care for the elderly and that funds from the state lottery go to civic groups instead of the government.