Group polls people at rally sites to assess reform demands

national March 31, 2014 00:00


A PARALLEL survey involving ordinary people has provided a similar but more detailed result than the opinions gathered in the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) reform forum, a civic group claimed.

While speakers at the PDRC forum are mainly academics, the Long Khan Kwam Kid Pathiroop Prathet Thai (Brainstorming for Reform in Thailand) gathered people’s opinions at different rally sites to see what they really wanted. The group comprises people from different sectors, including academics, businesspeople, employees and students. 
Apisada Thongsard, a volunteer with the group, said these surveys were useful because they gathered information at the ground level. 
The Long Khan Kwam Kid group has been seeking people’s opinions at the PDRC’s seven rally sites since January 27 – long before PDRC announced its plan to hold reform forums early this month. The group started off by distributing questionnaires, before conducting surveys to uncover specific problems that people were facing and what changes they wanted, Apisada said. The group also offered to help the PDRC and share the information it has gathered. It is also distributing open-end questionnaires in tandem with the reform forum to gather people’s opinions. 
“Many people walking by stop to listen, which means they are interested in change. The information we have gathered is not that different from what was gleaned in the forum, except ours is more detailed and addresses direct problems,” she said. 
For instance, while addressing the topic of poverty and social disparity on March 10, PDRC speakers only touched upon the issue of land ownership in Thailand. In comparison, villagers who were suffering from this problem spoke about it at length to others, including the Long Khan Kwam volunteers. 
They explained exactly how they were being prohibited from growing crops in areas that were owned by their ancestors, just because government officials had revised land documents to match the changes in laws. 
Apisada said this first-hand information her group had collected was not meant exclusively for the PDRC, but would also be sent to the next government as well as to agencies that are meant to root out corruption. 
The group is also planning to hold an exhibition titled “Voice of the Awakened People” to show exactly what reforms people want. 
One participant, who only identified herself as Wiphawan, said such surveys were better than the PDRC forum – which limits the number of speakers – because they allow all to speak their mind. Also, she said, not everybody wants to speak in front of the TV camera, citing the fact that PDRC’s activities are constantly broadcast on television. 

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