January 12, 2014 00:00
By Hataikarn Treesuwan
Move seen as attempt to ease tensions arising from tomorrow's shutdown's campaign
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is set to issue an executive decree setting up a reform committee as proposed by 25 private organisations in an attempt to defuse the current political tension amid fears the anti-government Bangkok shutdown tomorrow could escalate into civil strife, government sources said yesterday.
Yingluck is brainstorming with Pheu Thai Party strategists and security officials on the possibility of issuing an executive decree on reform by today before the
People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) led by Suthep Thaugsuban embarks on its “shutdown” campaign.
The private organisations reportedly have been lobbying Suthep and the PDRC leaders, with the military top brass coordinating negotiations. However, the talks so far have been fruitless, the source said.
“If the PM cannot persuade Suthep [to abort the campaign], she may announce the plan to issue an executive decree on TV pool or call a Cabinet meeting within today to issue the decree. Pheu Thai strategists are discussing whether to issue the law as a Royal Decree or an executive decree,” the source said.
The Yingluck government had earlier decided to issue a PM’s Office directive to establish a reform council after the Council of State stated that a Royal Decree establishing a reform body would not be legally binding on the next government.
Besides, Pheu Thai strategists feared that the government may face legal obstacles issuing a Royal Decree – for instance, if the decree does not get royal approval.
The source said it is likely the government may scrap the reform council to prevent overlapping of objectives. The government may ask academics from King Prajadhipok’s Institute to structure the reform agency.
Meanwhile former Democrat Party leader Bhichai Rattakul called on Yingluck to show courage by stepping down in order to turn crisis into opportunity.
He said Yingluck can avoid plunging the country into chaos and Thailand becoming a failed state by quitting, postponing the February 2 election, paving the way for a new Cabinet that would not serve longer than 18 months to write a new charter and call a general election within 45 days of the charter being promulgated after receiving public approval through a referendum. Bhichai also suggested that people who had no direct role in the 2010 political riots, and state officials who were involved in the 2013 and 2014 political upheaval be pardoned. Those who face criminal charges should be excluded from the amnesty.
He also suggested that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra return to face his jail terms and vow not to get involved in politics directly and indirectly.