Abhisit backs multi-party television debate on reform

national July 11, 2015 01:00

By PIMNARA PRADUBWIT,
WASAMON AU

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DEMOCRAT PARTY leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday supported a debate involving different parties, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.



In an attempt to discuss reconciliation and reform, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is inviting political parties and groups, and many prominent political figures to participate in the weekly “Moving Reform Forward” programme on Channel 5, initiated by the Centre for Reconciliation and Reform (CRR).
Earlier, NCPO secretary-general General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh said the show would bring together former heads of government such as Yingluck and Abhisit. Politicians from the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties will also be there, as well as chairmen of all National Reform Council panels. 
“If PM Prayut joined the show it would benefit the people because there would offer a bigger variety of opinions, and we didn’t have space for exchanging our views in the past,” Abhisit said. “You can say what you like if it is one-sided talk, but if it is an exchange of opinions it will help to add more open views,” he said. 
However, the CRR has yet to invite Yingluck to join the programme, as she does not seem to be ready, Chatchalerm said. He said he did not pressure Yingluck to join the programme but if there is any issue involved with her and she is ready, the centre will welcome her. 
Meanwhile, former foreign minister and key Pheu Thai Party member Surapong Tovichakchaikul said that if he were Yingluck, he would certainly not join, as he thought no one would follow what she said. “When she was the PM and defence minister, the Army chief at the time [Prayut Chan-o-cha] didn’t listen to her. And then he became the PM, so now how will he ever listen to her?” he said. 
The Democrat leader will appear on the programme on Monday to discuss bureaucratic reform with National Reform Council (NRC) member Thirayuth Lorlertratna and Tortrakul Yomnak, president of the Engineering Institute of Thailand.
Abhisit said it was a positive direction to see the NCPO open more space for concerned parties to express their views, adding that if the NCPO continued to do this it would help society return to normal. 
Asked if he has any advice to Prayut, as the prime minister gets irritated easily, Abhisit said he believed Prayut could separate his emotions from his work. “But as a human, hard work always makes one tired,” he said. 
Meanwhile, the programme is aimed as a mechanism to highlight public platforms opened by the NCPO and is not a “newborn” idea, NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari told The Nation.
He elaborated that the programme was aimed at increasing communication and brainstorming channels between representatives of the NRC and possibly some politicians or former executives whose names remain unconfirmed.
“We will discuss further to choose the topics and guests’ names for the programme next week. Our selection may prioritise on trending issues,” Winthai said, adding that former energy minister Pichai Naripthaphan and former education minister Chaturon Chaisang earlier had joined the programme, “because there should be knowledge exchange in such fields” as energy and education.
The “Moving Reform Forward” programme is not the first time the NCPO has opened public space, he said. “From the start, our bodies have been accessible to people. The programme simply emphasises how we have been open to public voices.
“It is also one of the mechanisms the NRC uses to communicate with people,” he added, referring to the NRC’s objective to approach people’s thoughts on reforms. Asked whether the programme’s intention would contrast with how the NCPO has asked media to report news “properly”, he replied, “they are completely different things”. While the programme provides space for figures to hold discussions based on facts and knowledge, some media, according to our consideration, tend to report controversial and sensitive issues that may cause a stir. However, though, we’ve never prohibited media from doing so. We’ve only asked for their cooperation with us.”