Thailand's reconciliation process a long-term project

08:02, June 11, 2010      

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The reconciliation process in Thailand will be a long-term project, which may take more than 10 years to complete and the government should put more efforts to tackle social division, a senior scholar said Thursday.


On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called on all Thai people to participate in the government's reconciliation process in a nationwide TV address, declaring implementation of the reconciliation plan.

The plan or the so-called five-point roadmap was first announced on May 3 after two round of peace talks between the government led by Mr. Abhisit and the United for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the "red-shirts" movement failed.

It include that the monarchy must not be used as a tool in political conflicts; the country must be reformed by tackling economic disparities and inequality; the media must refrain from reports which exacerbate social or political conflicts; an independent fact-finding panel must be appointed to review fatal incidents involving security forces and protesters; and the reconciliation process must be carried out with the cooperation of all sides.

All the long-term or short-term policies are aimed to consolidate the ruling party and achieve political stability in the near future, Surachai Sirikrai, a political scientist at Bangkok-based Thammasat University said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday.

"What Mr. Abhisit has to do, first is to reform the Thai politics, society and economy as much as possible, " he said. "In order to achieve his goal, it will be a long term effort."

However, he must have a short-term goal in order to bring confidence to the Thai people that the government has concrete policies to implement in the future, Surachai said.

"My aim is to have the reform plan ready before the year-end. It will be a New Year's gift for the people," Abhisit said in his address.

The prime minister asked academics, members of the private sector, local administrators, and mass media to conduct brainstorming sessions to gather opinions on how to implement his five-point roadmap to reconciliation and this process should be completed in two weeks.

Until now, three independent committees have been or are to be set up to bring about national reconciliation, including a committee to be set up in two or three weeks to investigate the violence during the red-shirt rallies headed by former Attorney- General Khanit na Nakhon.

"The committees set up to reform Thai political systems and rewrite constitution aimed at claming the opposition party and accommodate to the general public," Surachai said.


When asked about whether social division is the main challenger that the government is facing, the analyst said the gap between the grass-root and privilege classes has been widened and deepened, which is a big issue for the government.

"The impact of the red-shirt movement in the past three to four years is that they implanted political consciousness among the poor and rural people, the majority of the Thai population," he said. "This is a new fact, unlike the past."

Surachai said in the past the government was trying to narrow the gap while the red-shirt movement was trying to widen the gap, which caused the struggle between the two opposition parties.

It is believed that the red-shirt movement would continue guerrilla and underground struggle with the government, which is the reason the government is still keeping a close watch on the movement and retain the emergency law to suppress the underground movement, he said.

The government must make it a long-term policy to reform the society, politics and economy, which may take 5 to 10 years or more than 10 years to complete, the analyst said.

Prime Minister Abhisit echoed the remarks by saying that it will take much time longer than the government's term to complete the reconciliation process.

"In the future, the government has to put more effort on social welfare project for the poor and try to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, between the urban and rural area. Meanwhile, the government must uphold the social justice and eliminate the privilege of high classes," Surachai said.



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