The Nation


burning issue

Time for politicians to re-examine their oaths of office

The current political crisis offers no way out in the near future, as both conflicting sides remain firm on their standpoints.

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), headed by veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban, demands that political reform must be implemented before the next general election, while the government and the ruling Pheu Thai Party insist the election, scheduled for February 2, should come first. Both sides back their stances with arguments that sound convincing to their supporters.

Thailand's political conflict, which has continued for almost a decade, has involved different groups of people at all levels of society - from within families and villages to organisations and national institutions. Although many of those people have become involved willingly, others have been dragged into the conflict against their wishes.

Judging from the number of people who have joined the PDRC's more-than-six-week-long rally, many Thais appear to agree that it is time to reform the country's politics. It is clear many elements in society want to see changes for the better. Suthep, the group's secretary-general, resigned as an MP of the opposition Democrat Party and announced he would not return to politics for the rest of his life. His new role as a protest leader has won much support from people looking for political reform.

Over the past decade, Thai politics has been stuck in a deep-rooted rift that threatens to divide the country severely.

Nobody can tell for sure whether the long-awaited reform will take place before or after the election, as the government and the PDRC have been firm on their standpoints. The PDRC has accused the government of buying time and not wanting political reform to take place in Thailand.

Both sides are also mobilising support from different groups of people in a bid to back their claim of legitimacy for what they are doing. However, at the same time, they have denied the legitimacy of the other side.

The PDRC leaders have pointed to a political system rife with corruption, favouritism and abuse of power.

Undoubtedly, a large-scale reform involving the country's politics and other areas is needed. But something that must be done first and can be implemented immediately is the reforming of politicians.

Politicians have been mostly involved in the country's conflicts over the past decade, while other groups have just taken a supporting role. As the key players, politicians need to take part in this reform effort and begin by reforming themselves.

Before contesting the next election, politicians should try soul-searching, deciding for themselves if they have kept their swearing-in promises to serve the country to the best of their ability. Did they value the national interest over the benefit to themselves or their group?

If their sincere answer is "yes", they deserve to act as representatives of the people. But if they are aware that the answer is "no", it is recommended they should find a new job that has nothing to do with the public interest. This would be a great contribution for Thailand, which has been badly bruised by politicians who have done it damage one way or another.

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