The Nation



Why reform before elections?

Why do the anti-government protesters insist on reforms before elections? Is there a way out of this impasse?

Elections are a key to a robust democracy, but they are only one of former prime minister Anand Panyarachun's 7 Pillars of Sustainable Democracy, the others being political tolerance, the rule of law, freedom of expression, accountability and transparency, decentralisation and civil society.

The demonstrators don't trust Thaksin & Co - it's undisputed by him that he parked billions in assets with his hired help, thus evading taxes, or that 2,000-plus persons died during his "war on drugs", without impartial investigation.

Thus, they have good grounds for believing that if we had elections before reforms, and Pheu Thai won, they would not carry out promised reforms - especially since the changes would be to curb Thaksin's excesses.

How can the Pheu Thai earn enough trust so that elections can take place soon? They would have to prove by action, not words, that they now act in strict accordance with the letter and spirit of the law, and that this change of heart is permanent. For starters, Yingluck should:

1. Enforce the rule of law and, cancel the passport of her convicted fugitive brother;

2. Ask Dubai, Hong Kong, et al to extradite him, and;

3. Suspend Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul for re-issuing the passport to him in the first place.

She could do all this in an hour - but her not doing so speaks volumes and gives even more room for distrust.

So, dear reader, how else might the Pheu Thai earn your trust?

Burin Kantabutra


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