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'Get to the root of the problems'

Experts at forum urge a change to structure; returning power to people

TO ACHIEVE success in reform, stop going around in circles and begin attacking the problems at the root, King Prajadhipok's Institute secretary-general Dr Borwornsak Uwanno said yesterday at a seminar titled "Balance of Power".

Borwornsak said finding the root cause of our weaknesses was the key to solving the country's problems, adding that the reform process did not need to start from scratch as several studies had already pinpointed the actual cause of the problems.

"I have heard about the proposal to have a directly elected prime minister. But would having a directly elected PM weaken our country?" he asked.

Meanwhile, Thammasat University lecturer Kittisak Prokati said corruption was a key reason for the country's weakness, adding that as a long-term solution, people required proper education.

Chulalongkorn University lecturer Pitch Pongsawat suggested that the country's power structure should be replaced by a new balance of power. "To manage this balance of power, give power to the people and do not fear that they will have too much power because a mechanism can be installed to ensure that this power is not abused," he advised.

Dr Assadang Panikabutra, meanwhile, said the biggest problem was caused by the fact that our lawmakers copied bits and pieces from charters in Western countries, without checking to see if these laws would be suitable given that our country had different drawbacks and weaknesses.

"This is why we reach political dead ends," he said, adding that the best charter for Thailand would be one that has fewer articles and is more flexible.

He said the same political problems kept coming back to haunt the country because all of its constitutions had been designed for a political structure in which both the government and the parliament were under the same political umbrella.

"When both sides abuse their power by putting their own interest before the people's interest, then the citizens suffer," he said.

Assadang said he was not in favour of a charter that opts for a single Parliament that is made up of both elected and appointed MPs, referring to a satire written by late prime minister MR Kukrit Pramoj.

Pitch agreed saying there was a need for both an upper and a lower House of Parliament.

"We need two houses, not just for the purpose of checks and balances but also to reflect social diversities. Do not be pessimistic towards the majority and end up installing a mechanism to undermine it,'' he said.

In developed democracies, the people are strong and powerful because they get together to form political groups, he pointed out. "Developed countries place a lot of importance on strong civic sectors that reflect the diversity of their society," he said.


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