Vote 'a chance to restore democracy'

national March 24, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Nuttawut urges Democrat Party to take part; denies red-shirt revamp prompted by Suthep

Caretaker Deputy Commerce Minister Nuttawut Saikuar believes the Constitutional Court ruling nullifying the February 2 election can be the starting point to bring the country back on the democratic path.
He said if the Democrat Party agreed to take part in a new election, it could bring about a government that could kick-start reform and which served only one year before another election under the new reform was called.
“Suthep Thaugsuban [People’s Democratic Reform Committee chief] can continue with his rally but do not block the election,” he said.
“If we fight within the rule of law, a war will not break out.”
With the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s (UDD) change at the helm and to its structure, and the establishment of the red shirt Democracy Protection Volunteers (DPV), critics believe the red shirts are now on the offensive. 
The UDD’s former chairwoman, retired academic Thida Thavornseth, was replaced by a more aggressive leader, Jatuporn Prompan. 
DPV leader Suporn Atthawong, who is also the PM’s deputy secretary general, vowed to recruit hundreds of thousands of youths to fight for their cause. 
Political observers fear such moves will bring about civil strife and bloodshed. Nuttawut, however, downplayed the red shirt moves, saying a bloodbath can be avoided. 
“We must help prevent it. If we are united we can avoid it,’’ he said.
Nuttawut, who has taken the post of UDD secretary-general, denied that the UDD’s leadership changes had anything to do with the fact that Suthep had consolidated his rally and the increasing activities by independent agencies to allegedly bring down the caretaker Yingluck government. 
“We do not need to fight Suthep,” he said.
“Suthep is struggling with an internal battle – [there has been a decrease] from hundreds of thousand protesters down to thousands,” he said.
“If the PM is indicted by independent agencies and suspended from duty, there will be others to replace her.”
What the UDD is fighting is the conspiracy move to challenge the state and people’s power by toppling an elected government and establishing a new government by bypassing the people, he said.
Nuttawut said if the UDD gained victory, it would reform independent agencies, especially on their power to remove political office holders. 
“It is not practical, even though it is lawful, because the Senate gives birth to independent agencies and that is why impeachment is not easy,’’ he said. 
“The independent agencies’ roles, such as those of the Constitutional Court, have driven us to confront each other. 
“As long as the justice system is not fair, there will be upheaval and street fights. We have to help keep the present system and not destroy it by claiming that the new system is better.’’
When Jatuporn took the UDD helm he said he would lead the battle in a democratic way, and not act like a courtier.
Nuttawut said courtiers control the country’s structure and mechanisms and used Suthep to lead the fight.
“Suthep is not our rival. We are fighting the bad structure and mechanisms that suppress the people’s structure,’’ he said.
Nuttawut defended the red shirt against claims they were attempting to divide the country. 
“You cannot say that it is the red shirt’s mindset to divide the state,” he said.
“It is actually the explosion of frustration against injustice. Our movement will not lead to separation of the state.”
He said the fact that the red shirts had been under attack for allegedly attempting to provoke separatism did not worry him. 
“This will be the height of nonsense in the country’s history, like when we were accused of plotting to topple the monarchy in 2010,’’ he said.

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