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'Corrupt politicians should face death term'

Suthep urges military to side with the people to press for reforms before poll

Politicians convicted of corruption should face the death sentence or life imprisonment and those convicted of vote-buying should face a life-time political ban, the People's Democratic Reform Committee proposed yesterday.

People who attended a forum to discuss political reform at Thammasat University yesterday also suggested that politicians who face charges not be allowed to leave the country. They also said a minister of defence must be military officer and to protect farmers' interest, representatives of farmers and rice millers should sit as members of the National Rice Policy board.

Other proposals include that MPs should be limited to serve only two terms. The National Anti-Corruption Commission must give priority in investigating cases against politicians and corruption cases should not have any statute of limitation; and that Election Commission members must be replaced every time a new general election is called.

Meanwhile, Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn said he wanted to see the country quickly return to peace. Since the election date had been set, he hoped concerned people could find ways to ensure free and fair election. "It is true that Rome is not made in one day, but by the time it is finished, there will be no people to live there," he said.

Suthep said he understood that prolonged struggle for political reform would affect the economy, and that people were waiting for the military to make a decision. But the people had decided to choose by cutting a vicious circle from Thai politics.

Suthep urged the military to side with the people adding that the best way they could lead the country out of political doldrums was to make the caretaker PM step down.

"The people have awakened and if state officials stand by the people, the matter will be put to rest. If you make a quick decision, the people will hail you as the people's heroes,'' he said.

Thanasak said although police and military officials had been instructed not to use arms against the people, he worried that that third ill-intentioned group may take advantage of the situation to create a scene.

Suthep insisted that before the general election is held the caretaker government must step down to pave way for an interim government to run the country temporarily while the people's council must be established to implement reform. He vowed that after the reform is completed, he would wash his hands of politics.

Caretaker education minister Chaturon Chaisang said at another seminar to discuss political reform that proposals by the PDRC may take a long time as they would require changes to the charter, such as a change the current election system of one man one vote; and other moves to combat corruption, set up an interim government, and establish a 400 member people's council.

Chaturon said for the country to achieve true reform, it may take more than one year but the PDRC wanted to reform the country first before a poll. "I believe the PDRC's proposals would lead to a bigger crisis because of public opposition so I propose that the country hold a public referendum with more than half of total eligible voters to find out what the public want,'' he said.

Former Democrat party list MP Ongart Klampaiboon said the Democrats would not attend the reform forum organised by the caretaker PM today. He said the forum was just a round of drama without sincerity from the government and the party didn't want to be a rubber stamp for the government. "If we allow the general election to be held without reform, we would fuel the political temperature and one day it will explode," he said.

Meanwhile, caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Towichakchaikul said more than 40 countries had voiced support for an election. He said in an address broadcast by the Thai TV Pool that those countries included the US, China, Russia, and European Union countries.


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