Former Thai DPM creates foundation, vows to push for reforms before next election

Former Thai DPM creates foundation, vows to push for reforms before next election
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Veteran politician Suthep Thaugsuban yesterday vowed to campaign for reform before the next general election.

He was speaking at a press conference introducing a "non-political" civil-based reform foundation that he has set up.

Suthep, a key leader of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), said the new People's Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) would see through the PDRC's wish to complete reforms of the country before any election is held.

The PDRC led more than six months of protests against the civilian government before the military coup in May last year.

Suthep said that when the PDRC came out, it focused its energy on meeting the goal of reform, and that is why no timeframe was ever set for that task, suggesting that a timeframe would not be set for the PDRF's reform work either.

The country was in dire need of reform before an election, otherwise people would see bad politicians coming in and ruining the country again, he said.

He said he did not want to project too far into the future, but wanted to see the reform of various sectors completed before an election took place.

The foundation would co-operate with the government, but it would also let all "five rivers", or reform-related bodies, continue working on reform, as they have not finished that yet.

If the reform work was seen going against the foundation's goals and caused it concern, it would submit letters informing those in charge.

The first and foremost reform issue was political reform, among all five of PDRC's proposals ranging from reform against corruption to reform against poverty and inequity.

"We have set our fundamental goal as moving forward with the will of the PDRC masses to reform the country," he said.

Suthep led the PDRC masses from late 2013 to early 2014, which heightened the political conflict. This led to the putsch, which was aimed at stalling the conflict.

Suthep left the political scene and entered the monkshood. After more than a year, he returned to secular life on Tuesday amid speculation that he would get back to politics with the newly set-up foundation.

Satit Wongnongtaey, one of the foundation's board members and also a former PDRC leader, said the bureaucratic procedures to set up a foundation clearly barred any foundation from dabbling with politics, allaying public fears of the return of the PDRC political movement in a new form.

However, the foundation would not prohibit its members from engaging in politics or being members of any political party.

Satit said he could not tell yet whether the foundation's representatives would enter politics sometime in the future, but that would require some amendment of the foundation's rules.

Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya, a member of the foundation's working group and formerly a PDRC leader, said Suthep had invited him to be in charge of the foundation's affairs.

The press conference had raised concerns in the military camp, including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who admitted that he was worried about Suthep's moves.

But the organisers said they had talks with military officers and agreed that if they touched upon politics, they would face legal proceedings.

Colonel Winthai Suvari, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order, confirmed that the PDRC had asked for a permit to hold the press conference and had been granted it.

The atmosphere at the briefing was not so tense, as the organisers had asked PDRC supporters not to attend the event, said Aknat Promphan, the PDRF's spokesman.

Some military officers came to talk with PDRF representatives, while some videos were filmed during the press conference.

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