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Social media users open up on need for reform and change

As Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), tries to spur his own version of political reform amid many critics and a disapproving caretaker government, many social-media users are also discussing this very topic, albeit on a smaller scale.

On Thursday, Suthep proposed a "people's council" with 400 members - 300 elected from various occupations and 100 selected by the PDRC - a suggestion that has sparked much debate in social media.

The two main stances seen on Facebook reflect the differing solutions offered by the PDRC and the government: political reform before elections, or a new round of elections in February.

The two social-media camps have each come up with their own versions of political reform.

Many Facebook users are now posting images or changing their profile pictures, saying, "Reform before election". What is meant by "reform", or the process that such reform may involve, is not clarified by many users, but they have expressed their dislike of the election system used in the past.

For example, Prasan Ingkanunt, a famous anchor of TV Burapa, said he supports political reform only because the current democratic system is flawed.

"I'm sure that another election will just result in the same situation as the one now, with all the corruption, the majority's rule and an elected dictatorship," he said in his post.

He also clarified that he does not support revolution or a royally appointed government under Article 7 of the Constitution.

As to suggestions for a method of reform, a few people have proposed in their posts an election system that is filtered by the level of education of voters. They argue that higher education levels mean that they are more likely to vote in a capable and uncorrupted government.

At the same time, supporters of the current democratic system are also posting or sharing pictures, saying, "All the superpowers in the world want elections' or "If we want to improve democracy, we must first protect it".

They oppose Suthep's proposal for an appointed people's council and are against any political reform that is against the international standard of democracy.

Bai Tong Hang, a popular columnist from Prachatai, posted on Facebook that he is against any democratic system that is against the notion of "One person, one vote".

He claims that some protesters from Bangkok insist that a vote from the capital should be worth more than a vote from the uneducated North, which he vehemently opposes for being against the democratic ideal.

Despite Suthep's announcement on Thursday on the details of his proposed people's council, few have commented on it, including those who support "reform before election".

In fact, some people are now sharing a picture of an exam paper with the question "What is the people's council as proposed by the PDRC?" The answer given is "I have no idea."

Many who shared it are making fun of the proposal, but some people are also trying to explain their understanding of such a body.

Another noticeable trend is that fewer people are posting less outright anti- and pro-government posts on Facebook.

This may be because everyone can suggest a viable solution, making use of their political views during this time of change rather than venting opinions. This is a productive change in the social media, from just criticism of others' views, as in recent weeks.

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