'Public must lead reform effort'
Prawase urges political restructuring; sondhi questions banharn's ties to govt
The country's political power structure should be reformed before national reconciliation can begin, social critic Prawase Wasi told Banharn Silapa-archa, a key coordinator of the government's national-reform effort, yesterday.
Banharn visited Prawase after a meeting with former leaders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have turned down his invitation to join in the reform process.
Former PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul asked whether Banharn was being used as a tool, and if the reform would benefit fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Proposing his idea of a "Triangle that Moves the Mountain", Prawase said he would prefer to see three networks join hands and reform the nation by reducing the government's power and increasing people's power.
The first network is the national reform committee led by PM Yingluck Shinawatra, and the people who joined its forum on August 25.
The second network comprises independent groups of people formed based on issues or geographical areas, such as the Green Group led by Suriyasai Katasila and the People's Army to Overthrow Thaksin's Regime, and even the Democrat Party.
The third network, Prawase said, should be a Thailand Reform Council (or Reform Assembly) comprising all sectors taking part in national reform, to consider resolutions on various issues. The resolutions would afterwards be submitted to the government's committee (the first network) led by the PM for implementation.
Prawase said his role would be in the second network.
Banharn, the de facto leader of the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party, went to ASTV Manager's headquarters to meet with Sondhi and Chamlong Srimuang, both former leaders of the anti-government yellow shirts.
Sondhi not only refused to join in the political reform as invited, but also asked Banharn whether he thought Thaksin should return to Thailand to serve his jail term. He also asked whether, if Thaksin received amnesty, former deputy interior minister Pracha Maleenont, who was recently sentenced for corruption, should also get amnesty.
Sondhi asked why politicians had to fly abroad to see Thaksin to get promotions, and whether Banharn thought he was being used as a political tool. Sondhi said he did not believe that Yingluck was the real decision-maker. Meanwhile, he said, the government had not demonstrated its sincerity in solving political problems. For example, Tarit Pengdith's term as Department of Special Investigation director-general had been extended so Tarit could be used to attack the ruling party's political rivals, Sondhi alleged.
Sondhi said Thaksin, the de facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, had no intention of genuinely reforming politics, but only to reduce the heat in Thai politics.
Banharn said that at 82 years of age, he wanted to contribute to the country. He was speaking as a coordinator for political reform and had nothing to do with the government.
"I am doing this sincerely. I am not anyone's tool. This is just the beginning and we have to see how it will end. I'm not speaking for [Yingluck], but Yingluck does not always agree with her brother. I see her good intentions. But at present, there is no justice in society. I am banned [from voting] and my party was dissolved despite doing nothing wrong. Was that a double standard?" he asked.
Chamlong said Yingluck actually had no reason to push for political reform, as the ruling party's conduct was at the core of the country's problems. If it stopped what it was trying to do, the problems would end, he said.
Banharn yesterday said there seemed to be an attempt to discredit him, after a photo of him taken with a young actress was released on the Internet. He said this might have something to do with his role as a major coordinator of the government's political-reform effort.
The veteran politician denied any romantic relationship with the young woman, saying she was a recipient of a scholarship from his foundation.
Banharn said it was normal for people to have their photos taken with him, adding that on the same day the male vocalist of a Thai rock band, Toon Bodyslam, also had his photo taken with him.