Reformer: Referendum is not necessary as there are no conflicts in Thai society
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Reformer: Referendum is not necessary as there are no conflicts in Thai society

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, a National Reform Council (NRC)  member, is quoted in the The Nation:

The NRC member for political reform proposed that the country should press on with decentralisation of power.

In an exclusive interview with The Nation, he said the country only needed a single Parliament of 77 members, with one elected MP from each province, no party-list MPs, and there was no need for the Senate.

Chai-Anan called for a pyramid-like political system with “a narrow top and a broader base”, referring to a shift in administrative power from the national government to local ones.

His reasoning for such a proposal is that it would be a more effective and convenient system in which ordinary people could take part.

The fewer the MPs, the lesser the corruption. It is easier for the people to regulate and examine local affairs – because they are closer to the people – in comparison with national politics, which are generally perceived as far-reaching and complex,” Chai-Anan claimed.

BP: Is there any evidence to suggest that fewer MPs will result in less corruption? BP supports decentralisation but one shouldn’t be naive and think more decentralisation will result in corruption going away – see Indonesia for example. The article continues:

The checks and balances duties performed by the Senate could be delegated to a committee of experts in various fields.

BP: Who will choose these experts and what power will they have? Impeachment powers and powers similar to those granted to the Senate under the 2007 Constitution? Or powers like those granted to the House of Lords? There is a big difference.

Article continues:

The former drafter of the so-called “1997 People’s charter”, declared his intention to stand for membership of the constitution drafting committee.

Chai-Anan has abundant experience in drafting constitutions and national reforms. He said a PM could be an elected or a non-elected MP, but he disagreed with the idea of having a directly elected PM.

Once the constitution had been drafted, he saw no need for a national referendum, because there weren’t any clearly conflicting issues.

“Usually, a referendum is required when opinions are split between alternative options; whether society wants A or B. However in the current situation, those alternative options aren’t apparent, therefore, a referendum is not necessary.”

“Public endorsement of the constitution can, instead, be demonstrated through the absence of public dissent,” he pointed out.

BP:  Does he really think that society is not divided? Does he really think the coup settled things? Seriously, how can anyone be so unaware of the divisions in Thai society? Then again, the (likely) alternative is that he is aware and is just being dishonest. What does he think the reason we still have martial law is? It is because without it we would get protests and more criticism of the military junta and the direction the country is moving in.  What level of public dissent is needed in order for the junta to know there is not enough opposition and by what means would they measure this? It is rare that there is no opposition to anything so will be interested if the pro-establishment people push this ‘there-is-no-dissent-so-no-need-for-a-referendum’ argument on whether how they will specify measuring public dissent OR will they push the ‘a-referendum-will-create-divisions‘ argument.

Perhaps, if there is ‘no public dissent’, we will just get rid of elections and Prayuth can be PM for life…

btw, some of the other things he says seem more reasonable so have a read of them.