BANGKOK, Jan 17 – The government-sponsored forum on national reform failed to reach any resolution yesterday as caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra insisted on staying in power to hand over democracy to the next administration.
Representatives from various sectors including Cabinet members, state officials, businessmen, academics and civil society groups attended the meeting.
Ms Yingluck said all sectors in Thai society have agreed that the time is ripe for a national reform and “it will materialise as soon as possible at this forum.”
“All reform-related plans will be merged into one big plan. This is just the start,” she said and added that the government will not make any proposals but take the role of compiling information from the discussion.
She said political conflicts should not disrupt efforts to find resolutions for the country, calling on all sectors to come up with a blueprint for national reform with the people’s participation.
A representative of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said proposals from the forum must go through a public referendum before implementation.
“An election may not be the best solution. In the present circumstances, it’s necessary to have an election. The people’s right must be respected despite different opinions,” he said.
He proposed the formation of a ‘central committee’ to search and select a group of people acceptable to both conflicting factions.
“The committee will select qualified people to provide realistic proposals for national reform under a democratic system after which a referendum is to be conducted. The House will then be dissolved for a new election,” he said.
Teerapat Serirangsan, chairman of the Political Development Council, urged the government to postpone the February 2 election as proposed by the Election Commission.
The government should sacrifice to end the political conflicts, he said, adding that the caretaker government must resign and anti-government protesters stop their movement to pave the way for a people’s council and an interim government.
Yuthaporn Issarachai, dean of the Sukhothai Thammathirat University Faculty of Political Science, said the government’s blueprint must be clear to ensure people and protesters that a national reform will take place after an election.
Political institutes at national and local levels must be reformed and decentralisation is needed, he said.