Govt public forum on Sunday, protesters say ‘No’


BANGKOK, Dec 12 – The caretaker government made an about-turn today by announcing the opening of a public forum to find pathways to resolution of Thailand’s political stalemate.

Appearing on the state-operated Channel 11, Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government was ready to listen to public opinion or together discuss the best solutions for Thailand given several organisations’ attempts to hold a forum for peaceful dialogue and national reform in the future.

The discussion should be held in parallel with the general election, set for February 2 as stipulated in the royal decree on House dissolution, she said.

She said Thai people should find agreement in determining Thailand’s future and concrete reform after the general election.

Based on proposals from many quarters in Thai society, the government is pleased to facilitate such a forum and asked Tongthong Chandransu, permanent secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, to invite representatives from different quarters, political parties, the private sector, the public sector, educational institutions, civil society and other public groups, organisations, lawyers, academics and the media to join in finding possible resolutions for the country, she said.

She said the forum will be held at Queen Sirikit Convention Centre this Sunday, starting at 9am.

Ms Yingluck said that open-minded discussion will create clear proposals as guiding principles for society in solving the problems.

She said she would not attend the forum but would leave it to civil servants to “moderate” to enable all factions to broadly air their opinions without a set timeframe.

Mr Tongthong will explain details of the forum tomorrow and the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) is welcome to participate, said Ms Yingluck.

PDRC spokesman Ekanat Prompan promptly announced that the anti-government group would not attend the government-initiated forum, insisting that a political reform must take place before the February 2 general election.

Key PDRC leaders met today with representatives from seven private organisations and are scheduled to meet with the media tomorrow.