UPDATE: See update below
Songkran Grachangnetara in the Bangkok Post is very sceptical (like 66 percent of the public in a recent poll) that the road map will succeed:
Last week the prime minister finally said something I was able to wholeheartedly agree on, when he stated that he was not completely confident that his “road map to reconciliation” would succeed.
I would go a little further by saying that in my view there is more chance of Honduras winning the World Cup than Mr Abhisit’s road map achieving any kind of reconciliation.
First, it is my belief that when it comes to the kind of reconciliation that is required to heal Thailand’s gaping wound, PM Abhisit along with his beloved Democrat Party are actually part of the problem, and therefore can never be the sole solution.
Mr Abhisit has yet to explain to the public’s satisfaction the role that the army allegedly played in plotting his path to the premiership. This government has ordered and convened committees to investigate everything from government spending in employment training initiatives to unwanted road expansions, but not one transparent committee to deliver the whole truth behind the coup of 2006.
So how can a prime minister clouded with questions of illegitimacy and believed by most red shirt protesters to be the very embodiment of privilege and class – things they deplore and despise – claim the mantle of “blessed are the peacemakers?” Imagine if the situation were reversed and it was Thaksin, the PAD’s poster child for concentrated evil, that ordered the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) to quell an uprising of the yellow shirts in the Ratchaprasong area which resulted in more than 80 deaths? And subsequently it was Thaksin himself who decided to pen a “road map for reconciliation” while expecting all belligerent factions to fall into line and reach for the olive branch?
Once Mr Abhisit stops day-dreaming he will soon wake up to the reality that it is almost impossible for serious conflicts of this nature to be settled by the warring factions themselves, otherwise we would have no need for courts, Israel and Palestine would have no need for US involvement in the peace process and the IRA would have laid down its arms without the vital assistance of Senator Mitchell and the stipulations of the Mitchell Principles!
BP: Actually, this is a good point. If a pro-Thaksin government proposed these committees would the Democrats and the PAD play along?
The charter reform panel has now been announced, per the Bangkok Post:
National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) rector Sombat Thamrongthanyawong will head the committee.
The panel will focus on the six charter amendment points raised last year by a parliamentary committee on reconciliation. It will hold its first meeting tomorrow at Government House.
The prime minister will chair the meeting and provide the committee with guidelines, Mr Sombat said.
The six proposed amendments concern the dissolution of political parties and the banning of their executives from politics; the procedures for becoming an MP; the procedures for becoming a senator; treaties that require parliamentary endorsement; the appointment of MPs to hold political positions; and intervention by MPs in the administration and budgeting of government projects.
The 19 committee members are Prasart Suebkha, Suranaree University of Technology rector, who serves as deputy chairman of the panel; Somkid Lertpaitoon, Thammasat University’s dean of law; Teerana Bhongmakapat, Chulalongkorn University’s economics dean; Supachai Yavaprabhas, director of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (Seameo); Sawaeng Boonchalermwipas, a Thammasat University law lecturer; Charas Suwanmala, Chulalongkorn University’s political science dean; Nanthawat Boramanand, a Chulalongkorn University law lecturer; Sakda Thanicul, Chulalongkorn University’s law dean; Nakharin Mektrairat, Thammasat University’s former political science dean; Banjerd Singkaneti, Thammasat University’s director of its PhD programme in public law; Jade Donavanik, Siam University’s law dean; Sunthorn Maneesawat, a Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University law lecturer; Thawee Suraritkul, a Sukhothai Thammathirat law lecturer; Chaiya Yimwilai, Sripatum University’s director of its PhD programme in public administration; Siriwat Sunthornpaiboon, a former Ramkhamhaeng University law lecturer; Pichai Rattanadilok na Phuket, Nida’s social development deputy dean; Thianchai na Nakorn, deputy secretary-general to the Political Development Council; and Woothisarn Tanchai, deputy secretary-general of the King Prajadhipok’s Institute.
BP: Let’s have a look at some of these committee members.The committee head Sombat called on Thaksin to resign in 2006 when there were political protests, appointed by the junta to the NLA, Samak in 2008, but opposed the call for Abhisit to dissolve parliament in April 2010 calling it “unreasonable”.
Teerana Bhongmakapat is a former adviser to the Democrats and specifically Supachai P when he was Deputy PM.
Another member per PRD:
Moreover, Associate Professor Dr. Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket (พิชาย รัตนดิลก ณ ภูเก็ต), the deputy Dean of NIDA, stated that the government had made terribly wrong decisions to collide with the PAD and arrest two PAD’s key leaders. He claimed that the actions were taken without any consideration of possible consequences, one of which had reflected on the government’s hidden agenda and ulterior motives.
Dr. Pichai also added that the government’s inhumane decisions proved that PM Somchai Wongsawat and his cabinet were no longer accepted to run the nation. In essence, he predicted that the PM would have to resign due to mounting pressure exerted by the public and constant inflow of PAD’s supporters at the Government house.
Sawaeng Boonchalermvipas was appointed to the National Legislative Assembly by the junta and in 2008 signed a petition calling on PPP not to choose Samak as PM again after the Constitution Court removed him.
BP: Some of the others were appointed by the junta to draft the 2007 Constitution. For a number of them it is hard to find many public comments. Now, not all of the statements by the above necessarily disqualify themselves from being members, but just look at what one of the members, Somkid Lertpaitoon, said in 2008:
If they really want to have a new Constitution, the drafters must be completely neutral.
BP: This was, of course, when the pro-Thaksin PPP wanted to amend the constitution. BP would be satisifed with a represenative group of academics, but is there even one red sympathiser among the 19? Now, imagine if Thaksin or a pro-Thaksin party had selected a similar bunch of academics who were ideologically sympathetic to the reds, wouldn’t there be an outrage? Yes. Do you see any words of criticism for the current 19?
UPDATE: Bloomberg also has an article (“Abhisit Shutout of Rivals on Thai Political Revamp May Doom Reconciliation”) along similiar lines to this post:
“Abhisit’s plan excludes the opposition totally,” Chaturon Chaiseng, a Cabinet member under ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra who spoke at the protests, said by phone. “The people he picked mostly supported the coup and the present constitution, which is the fundamental problem.”
Rival groups with different visions for governing Thailand have battled on the streets since the army ousted Thaksin in 2006. Failure to reconcile those interests may lead to a repeat of violence that has deterred investors, said Paul Chambers, a senior research fellow at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
“It’s hard to believe there is going to be some genuine move toward any real constitutional changes,” said Chambers, who has published research on Thai politics for the past decade. “If the plan turns out to be mere fluff, those upcountry will get angrier.”
The panel of 19 academics reviewing the constitution includes four original drafters. Three others, including the chairman, served in the junta-appointed legislature. Another member, Banjerd Singkaneti, drew a rebuttal from the Israeli Embassy in 2006 when he was quoted in the Bangkok Post saying that Thaksin was worse than Hitler.
BP: h/t to BangkokDan who labels the article “red propaganda ?”…