Support for reform up amid poll doubt

national May 04, 2014 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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People fear another disrupted ballot; many want changes now, surveys find

Most people fear that the next election – tentatively scheduled for July 20 – will be disrupted again by protesters if political reforms are not enacted first, the latest opinion polls show. 
Most people surveyed in a Nida poll believe the July 20 election will suffer the same fate as the one on February 2, which ended up being annulled by judges, and that the country should implement reforms before holding another election. 
Dusit Poll also released similar survey results about the election. Of the 1,147 respondents, 52 per cent said they feared the new poll would be a waste of money, while 15.6 per cent wanted the Election Commission to ensure a free and fair election, and 14.6 per cent said some parties may boycott the election again.
About 63 per cent believe the July 20 election will be disrupted by protests, though 25 per cent believe the poll will go smoothly, while 12 per cent were unsure what might happen, a survey by National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) showed. 
Asked what the country should do first – hold an election or implement reform – 49.6 per cent said reform, 38 per cent wanted an election, 6 per cent said either do both at the same time or don’t do anything, while 6.2 per cent were not certain. 
Asked if they thought the poll would be free and fair, 35 per cent said it would not be free and fair, 25 per cent said it would barely be free and fair, 22 per cent said it would be fairly free and fair, 7.5 per cent said it would be very free and fair, while 9.4 per cent were not certain. 
The Nida poll was conducted with 1,252 respondents across the country on Friday and yesterday.
When asked about Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s move to seek cooperation from the military, political parties and the Justice Ministry’s permanent secretary to find solutions for the turmoil, 43 per cent of people in the Dusit Poll said they wanted him to act without any political motivation or vested interest. 
Some 32 per cent said he should be given a chance to find a solution, 10 per cent said what he was doing was part of a political game, while 8.9 per cent said if all sides cooperated, Abhisit would find effective and clear solutions. Some 4.6 per cent said they found Abhisit’s attempt an interesting move worth attention as he has opponents and supporters.
The Dusit Poll was conducted from April 30 to May 2.
In a related development, pro-government red shirts led rallies yesterday in the North and Northeast, including Chiang Mai, Kalasin and Khon Kaen, against what they termed undemocratic attempts for political changes.
Meanwhile, kamnan and village heads have threatened to stage a mass rally today to oust anti-government protesters who have laid siege to the Interior Ministry in Bangkok for months in an attempt to pressure the caretaker government to step down. 
Chiang Mai Association of Kamnan and Village Heads president Kamoldit Rojthanawipat, or Kamnan Daeng, said about 1,100 local leaders from Chiang Mai would join forces with their counterparts nationwide and some 80,000 people would gather at Sanam Luang.
He said the leaders would then march to the Interior Ministry to push the People’s Democratic Reform Committee protesters out of the ministry. Kamoldit said that although only a small number of PDRC protesters were at the ministry, they had blocked officials from working, causing public inconvenience nationwide. 
“The PDRC’s act of laying siege is illegal and useless. We will put on our uniforms to stop this illegal activity,’’ he said.
Komkrit Singtothong, president of the Chon Buri Association of Kamnan and Village Heads, said about 1,200 kamnan, village heads, assistant village heads and local doctors from his province would travel to Bangkok.
“The PDRC protesters have blocked the Interior Ministry officials from carrying out their duty, causing damage to the public,” he said.
“We will be gentle with them as we do not want violence. If they resist, we will seek to press charges.”
Komkrit said defence volunteers and police would also join the rally.
He said he would also lead local leaders to protest against a proposal to elect all provincial governors, which may result in positions of  kamnan and village heads being scrapped.
The proposal was unacceptable because the kamnan and village heads had become an institution that addressed public issues after its establishment 122 years ago.
King Rama 5 appointed kamnans and village heads to address public grievances and they are empowered as authorities by criminal code procedures, Komkrit said.

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