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Seminar hears need for parliamentary system with elected and appointed members

Participants at a seminar on national reform acknowledged that there was a need for a dual parliamentary system, which includes MPs as well as elected and appointed senators, though they failed to agree on whether or not MPs should be members of a political party.

However, the seminar did come up with a proposal that any politician found involved in corrupt dealings should be banned from politics for life, and that lawmakers should only be allowed immunity in small cases, such as libel.

The seminar, which included a 300-strong focus-group who were asked questions on how to employ checks and balance on parliamentarians, was organised jointly by the Defence Ministry and the King Prajadhipok's Institute (KPI).

Permanent secretary of Defence General Surasak Kanjanarat, who is in charge of national reconciliation and reform, said the focus group was interviewed about the structure of Parliament, the mode of appointment or election of MPs and senators and how to examine their work and performance. The questionnaire also asked whether the MPs and senators should come from different parties.

The results of the interviews would be presented to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) by the end of this month before proposing it to the Reform Council.

Separately, the NCPO held a weekly meeting - which can be compared to a Cabinet meeting - and spokesman Winthai Suvari said there was no discussion of the provisional charter as expected by the media.

Meanwhile, KPI secretary-general Borwornsak Uwanno said at the seminar yesterday people's representatives need to be brave, who know the root cause of the problems and can tackle them without any conflict of interest.

Borwornsak said that since 1997 attempts have been made to introduce reforms, adding that the two biggest problems in the country were the performance of state officials and widespread social disparity, especially in terms of the distribution of natural resources and sharing of power.

He said national reform in this era should be done in the same way as it was dealt with during the time of King Rama V, who started by first defining the real causes before handling them.

"If we study the actual causes of the problems and then reform them while asking what has kept the Thais divided over the past decade, we will have the relevant answers and will then be able to seek ways of getting a good government and Parliament. That will be a good start for successful reform," he said.

"We must also have the means to examine [the government and parliamentarians] in the capacity of decision-makers on national reform after the NCPO disbands. The main point contributing to the success of reform is proper participation of people from all parties. Otherwise, reform will be like a body without a soul," he pointed out.


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