Reconciliation agency hopes to educate people in move to bridge divide

national July 01, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Reconciliation for Reform Centre director Lt-General Kampanart Ruddit says the next prime minister and the opposition leader must be able to visit every inch of the country with no safety concerns - something that is almost impossible in a land deeply spl

Kampanart said the reconciliation body had already accomplished 60-70 per cent of its mission since the National Council for Peace and Order took control of the country on May 22. 
He said the centre had continued to implement activities believed to help bring about national reconciliation. 
The project “Returning Happiness to the People” seeks to entertain people with musical performances and recreational, sporting and cultural activities. 
In a bid to bridge political division, the two main political camps have been invited to iron out differences through talks and seminar panels. 
In an attempt to unify the country, the civic sector has also been asked to promote reconciliation.
Kampanart said the centre had received full support because all Thais wanted more unity in the country.
He said the centre had collected data and submitted it to the Reform Council so a reform roadmap for the country could be drawn. 
“The data does not incriminate anyone of any wrongdoings,’’ he said.
“We measure our success by the fact that the PM must be able to go to any region of the country. MPs of any political camps must be able to visit any part of the country, not only their constituencies.’’
Countering criticism that some reconciliation activities such as having rival politicians talk over breakfast did not produce real and tangible results, Kampanart said he realised that true reconciliation could not be forced. 
“What we initiate is just a starting point. Talks will start and get the reconciliation process going,” he said.
The Interior and Public Health ministries had inspected some villages to check the progress of work and found that villagers were not a “threat” but he said some village heads had brainwashed people with one-sided information which may be wrong.
For instance, his teams had problems getting villagers to understand what true democracy was. 
“They believe that democracy is going to the poll and the majority voice is respected and they refuse to accept other pieces of information,” he said.
He said the agency had also tried to get villagers to understand that the monarchy had nothing to do with political conflicts but problems arose after some people involved or politicised the monarchy. 
“BBC reporter Jonathan Head interviewed me about the lese majeste law. I told him that every country has laws that protect its head of state. It is not right if you attack our law, as if trying to create a world order. 
“Every country has its dignity. We can solve our problems and we are democratic.”

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