Private sector strongly backs national reform


BANGKOK, Dec 23 – Thailand’s private sector today offered to mediate among diverse sectors of society to help resolve Thailand’s political conflicts and national reform.

Vichai Assarasakorn, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the network of seven private organisations will host a so-called “Reform Now” forum to listen to opinions from the private sector, academics, political factions and civic groups in an attempt to seek solutions to the tension.

Mr Vichai, who acts as the network spokesman, said the private sector is willing to organise a central forum and facilitate talks among all factions in Thai society to find a peaceful resolution without bias.

He did not elaborate on the schedule of the forum.

Wallop Witanakorn, deputy chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the private organisations network has concentrated more on political reform than the timing of the snap elections.

He said the reform can be held either before or after the elections as agreed by political parties which will have to jointly enter an agreement for national and political reforms.

It is impossible to set the duration of the reform, he said.

Mr Wallop said foreign investors have closely monitored the political situation in Thailand and may shift their holdings to other countries if the conflict is prolonged.

Domestic consumption has dropped significantly, resulting in declining sales and production volume, while the tourism sector must continue boosting confidence among foreign visitors, he said.

The political dispute has yet to affect the export sector, but it may have a negative impact in the long run given foreign importers’ concern over the situation in Thailand.

He admitted that a pre-election political reform will boost foreign investor confidence for it will be a display of Thailand’s attempt to solve the crisis and end conflicts among different factions.