THAILAND - Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced a road map for national reform yesterday that would go hand in hand with the February 2 snap election, requiring all political parties to pledge to honour the reform process after the election.
However, critics from the opposition Democrat Party appeared unconvinced, calling it a ploy to try and discourage the large numbers of people expected to join anti-government protests in Bangkok today.
Under Yingluck's plan, all parties would have to pledge that the new government holds power for only two years, to see through the national reform process. Its mandate would be the creation of the reform council to work side by side with the new government. The reform council would represent peoples from all walks of life - both at local and national level - along with those representing various professions.
The caretaker premier said the national reform council would have a working mandate of two years to coincide with the next administration. The council would have the duty of proposing long-term reforms for the Kingdom, particularly political reforms, "so future politics can truly speak for the people", Yingluck said.
Yingluck said she was fully committed to a speedy reform process that would involve all parties and all Thais, so that everyone could be a part of a process, which restores peace and order to the country.
However, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, Jurin Laksanawisit, said he was not convinced and posted a message on his Facebook page yesterday, saying the caretaker government would have to take responsibility if something untoward happened as a result of not implementing reforms before the snap election. Jurin also called the move a selfish decision for the sake of self-preservation.
Democrat Party spokesperson, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the announcement was a ploy to reduce the number of protesters today, but it would have the opposite effect. He also criticised the caretaker premier's proposal as vague, superficial and rushed.
Chief adviser to the Chart Thai Pattana Party, Banharn Silpa-archa, said he was optimistic about the snap election, adding that the party would be campaigning throughout the Kingdom. He hoped that a small party like Chart Thai Pattana would have the opportunity to form the next government. Banharn, who recently returned to politics from a five-year political ban, said he would be the number-one candidate on the party list for his party.
Banharn also said he had not recently met or spoken with Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Banharn said he was not sure if Suthep still considered him a friend. They might find it difficult to relate to one another under the current circumstances, he added.
In a related development, a group of academics and students from 15 southern education institutions issued a statement condemning the caretaker government for not yielding to reform before the election. They called on all people to put pressure on the government.
Suan Dusit poll, meanwhile, revealed 91.55 per cent of 1,240 Bangkokians surveyed, believe politicians are the cause of division in society today. Eighty per cent also said politicians lacked morals, ethics and were self-serving.