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The private sector to offer way out of chaos

Group meets Suthep, PDRC members for first time as Yingluck invites all to talk

Seven private-sector organisations will today propose a plan for national reform as part of an effort to seek solutions to ease the current political conflict. These proposals will also be handed over to the different political parties.

A source who asked not to be named said the proposals would focus on a key message - that the electoral system and its rules be revised. Also urged is reform to ensure the transparent use of administrative power and an effective mechanism to curb corruption.

The proposals come from the Tourism Council of Thailand, the Thai Bankers' Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Thai Listed Companies Association.

The source said that if the February 2 election is postponed, then reforms should be put in place first. Otherwise, a reform council should be established and a new election held once the new rules have been set.

'Several ways out'

If the election is postponed, then an interim government that is trusted by all parties should be in place, the source said.

The group has also agreed that the Constitution's Article 7 did not necessarily mean seeking a royally appointed prime minister, but meant using provisions as allowed by the charter. If Article 7 is used, then all parties should agree upon it.

If they do not agree, then there should be an agreement on the rules of what to do.

In principle, national reforms are required to ensure that new elections do not just bring back the old conflicts, the source said.

He added that the meeting discussed and agreed that different sides taking completely opposite views would only create endless arguments and that there would only be technical interpretations of the law. Instead, he said, the main focus should be seeking solutions for the country instead of getting bogged down by legal limitations.

The group met with members of the Suthep Thaugsuban-led anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) at Bangkok's Sukosol Hotel. This is the first time anyone has had proper talks with the PDRC.

At the meeting, Suthep agreed that national reform should be put in place before an election is held and also presented a roster for the "people's council", which would comprise 400 non-politicians.

He added that though he and the PDRC would welcome the pro-government red shirts to share ideas, there would be no negotiations or compromises.

Suthep also said he welcomed the private sector's support, but if its representatives did not agree with him, then they should keep quiet and not obstruct his group.

Invitation from Yingluck

This meeting was held after Yingluck Shinawatra, as caretaker prime minister, issued an invitation for political parties and all sectors in society to join a forum on Sunday.

Suthep said he did not want to meet with or talk to Yingluck as she was not the decision-maker.

A representative from the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations then asked Suthep what he would do now that the royal decree on the election had been endorsed.

Suthep responded that the election could be postponed as it was in 2006, as these were abnormal circumstances.

He also said he would not accept an election under the same old rules as that would lead to the same results and the winner would claim legitimacy.



What they suggest:

National reform:

_ Accepted electoral system and rules;

_ Transparent use of power;

_ Effective mechanism for scrutiny

What to do:

First scenario: Postpone the election - establish a national reform council - set up new rules.

Second scenario: Election held as scheduled on February 2

A national reform forum is established in parallel - all political parties make a pact - the new government carries out national reform - dissolves House - holds new elections.


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