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Reform forum ‘must be unbiased’

Posted by Rattana_S On September - 18 - 2013

Gothom comes up with a four-level structure, advises all sides to join in

THE POLITICAL reform forum should be free of any political intervention and not biased in any way towards any party, a noted peace campaigner who was invited to join the forum said yesterday.

Gothom Arya, a lecturer at Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, said that to ensure success, the process should involve dialogue, deliberation for results and decision-making based on proper consensus.

“Political reform is aimed at bringing benefits and happiness to society as a whole in the future. The work needs time to complete, possibly three years,” Gothom said.

“Reform must be free from interference by any party. It must be free from any bias towards any party.”

He also suggested that reform measures must be given a four-level structure.

The first level should comprise of a political reform council consisting of political leaders and representatives from political parties, the public and private sector, mass media as well as civil society to provide guidelines for the process.

The second level should consist of a committee set up by the council to study reform proposals that had been presented by different committees appointed by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and the Parliament’s King Prajadhipok Institute.

The third level should comprise a network of groups and panels working on political reform, while the last should consist of reform volunteers who get to hold discussions on the matter with people in the provinces.

Dr Prawase Wasi, a respected social critic, said yesterday that he supported the formation of a People Assembly [to] Reform Thailand by 45 groups from civil society. He said this new reform forum should be independent from the government’s forum as they both had the same goal – reforming politics in Thailand.

“I believe there will be no conflict between the two groups,” he said. “It’s good that the government started this [reform] thing; it has attracted interest from society. Don’t think that the government is insincere. People who disagree with the government may set up their own council. The work will be easier if different social elements come together to offer input and take action.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana called on civil-society groups to take part in the government’s forum.

“We want participation from all elements in society. But it’s impossible for the forum to allow everyone to voice their opinions. That way, we will never come to a conclusion. They should send their representatives.”

In a related development, opposition leader Abhisit yesterday turned down an invitation from ex-PM Banharn Silapa-archa, who is a government representative, to participate in the reform forum.

They met at the Democrat Party’s headquarters yesterday.

Abhisit has accused the government of not being sincere about reforming politics, alleging it is far too focused on pushing through constitutional changes and an amnesty law, which have renewed conflict.

Earlier yesterday, Abhisit said the government should focus on reform proposals that have been put forward by different panels, instead of starting anew. He called on the government to heed suggestions from different groups about reforming politics.

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