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Democrats urge scrutiny of government

Posted by pakin On September - 10 - 2014

Abhisit denies saying reform process will take three years

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has stressed the need for more vigorous monitoring mechanisms to scrutinise the interim government and keep corruption in check.

Mr Abhisit’s comments came as National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief Prayuth Chan-ocha began his job as prime minister at Government House on Tuesday.

Mr Abhisit said the Prayuth government wields total power in running the country, allowing it to take action more swiftly than past elected governments, particularly in pushing legislation.

Even though some independent organisations and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), which acts as a parliament, exist, the system to monitor and prevent corruption and policy mismanagement may not be as vigorous as when democracy ruled, Mr Abhisit said. The government leader must find ways to ensure monitoring mechanisms continue to function, he added.

Unlike democratically elected governments, which are usually judged by their pledged policy moves, the current government must explain to the people whether their measures respond to public needs, Mr Abhisit said.

However, he admitted such a comparison may not be applicable in all cases because the current government is only temporary and aims to solve nationwide problems.

Mr Abhisit also wanted the government to focus on solving bread-and-butter issues and high living costs.

He added that he supports Gen Prayuth’s anti-corruption drive, saying corruption will be widespread without mechanisms to monitor and prevent it.

Mr Abhisit also denied saying the Prayuth government could stay in power for up to three years to complete national reform.

He added that many analysts believe the government cannot afford to remain in power for only 18 months or two years.

He said the government’s job will from now on become difficult, particularly regarding reforms which will probably face differing responses and resistance.

Economic issues will be another difficult mission for the government. Besides budget constraints, the uncertainty of the global economy is another challenge.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam said yesterday all cabinet ministers will submit declarations of their assets to the National Anti-Corruption Commission by Oct 2 — within 30 days of being sworn into office last Thursday. Their assets will be revealed to the public, Mr Wissanu added.

Speaking about the NCPO’s role, Mr Wissanu said it will become only an organisation, not a government as it previously was.

From now on, the NCPO can no longer issue any announcements or orders, nor can it summon anyone to report as the government has taken on all decision-making powers on national administration. However, the NCPO can still exercise power under martial law.

During yesterday’s cabinet meeting, Gen Prayuth instructed NCPO section heads to report on their activities over the past three months to provide updates for cabinet ministers who will take over the NCPO’s work, Mr Wissanu said.

The cabinet also discussed the policy address statement which the government is due to deliver before the NLA on Friday, Mr Wissanu said.

He said Gen Prayuth instructed that the government’s policies include the strategies given by His Majesty the King as well as the monarch’s sufficiency economy principle; the NCPO’s three-stage plan for reconciliation, reform, and election; and solutions to problems facing the country and the public.

Mr Wissanu also said that in the past, governments were only required to run the country under constitutions.

But the current interim charter stipulates three tasks for the government for the first time — to run the country, to implement reform and to foster unity, Mr Wissanu said. Therefore, the government’s policy statement address must cover those tasks, he said.

He said the policy statement address will include the 11 areas of reform set out by the NCPO and an anti-corruption campaign will be included as a top priority in the 11 reform categories.

Gen Prayuth has vowed to make the anti-corruption campaign a national priority, saying fighting pervasive graft is a central theme of the government’s national reform strategy.

The 11 areas being targeted for change are politics, law and justice, national administration, local administration, education, the economy, energy, public health and environment, mass media, social affairs, plus a special category to deal with “other issues”.

Mr Wissanu said the interim government is well aware of the limited time frame for its work, unlike other governments which have four years in office.

Its policies are designed for the government to implement within a one-year framework, Mr Wissanu said.

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