July 19, 2014 00:00
By Panya Thiosangwan
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has asked Thai people to join the National Reform Council.
“Thailand’s national reform in the second phase [of the NCPO’s work] on 11 or more issues and needs cooperation from all sectors of society. Until each group crystallises their ideas, it is difficult to lead to reform in the second phase and implementation in the third phase,” he said, adding that the NCPO was open for people to submit ideas.
“People must apply to be members of the reform council so they can help resolve issues. Those interested should hurry up and get their supporters ready and collect necessary information so once registration opens, they can apply right away,” he said in his weekly TV show last night.
He also asked Thais and the international community to not criticise or oppose the NCPO’s moves too soon, but instead help it achieve success.
He said his deputy ACM Prajin Juntong, in charge of economic matters, had welcomed a meeting with the US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, who said bilateral ties would continue smoothly.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry’s permanent-secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow officially visited China late last week and acknowledged Beijing’s confidence in Thailand playing a prominent role in Asean, he said.
As for the economy, the junta chief said the budget for 2015 fiscal year has been set at Bt2.575 trillion. He added that the NCPO was focusing on the importance of resolving people’s problems, reducing production cost in the agricultural sector, developing water resources, suppressing corruption and having all related agencies have a say in the budget in order to avoid redundancies.
In addition, 12 areas have been marked out as special economic zones and five of them in border areas will need to undergo urgent development. The areas in this case are Mae Sot, Mukdahan, Sa Kaew, Trat and Sadao.
As for the railway project, he said the NCPO was still in the process of deciding whether it should link with other countries, especially China. Also, the width of the track and its ability to carry trains at the speed of 160 to 180 kilometres per hour would also be taken into account. The existing railway lines in the country are merely a metre wide, allowing for trains to only go at 90km per hour.
In a bid to solve social problems, NCPO will soon be summoning youths, who create social problems in a bid to get them to change their behaviour, he said.
“The government has wasted a lot of money [to solve social problems] but we haven’t been able to remove these problems permanently. For example, ‘Vant Boys’ [illegal street motorcycle racers] or brawling students, I’d like to warn these people that if they haven’t realised what damage they cause to the country, they must face the law strictly,” he said.
“[Problematic teens] should change themselves quickly and find a job or complete their studies. The seniors [students or teenagers] who guide their juniors in the wrong way will be summoned and [will have to] be made to understand soon.”
He said social problems such as drugs, crime, gambling and quarrelling might be caused by the lack of family care if parents work too hard or spend too little time with their children, letting them fall under the influence of low-quality media.
As for social order and regulating public transport, as well as the use of footpaths, it means relocating vendors’ stalls. Prayuth said the NCPO would try to make changes in a way that least affects the poor. In the meantime, they should follow the law, as breaking the law only allows crooked officers to extort money from them.
He said Bt300 million had been allocated for the National Anti-Corruption Commission to hire another 700 officers to crack down on corruption.
Prayuth said the Bt30 universal healthcare scheme was still in place and would be improved. The NCPO would also spend time considering social welfare, as it did not want to waste money on unnecessary populist policies.