Reform talks only way to avoid bloodshed, say academics

An anti-government protester waves a Thai national flag as riot policemen stand guard outside the Constitutional Court in Bangkok.

THAILAND - A coordinating committee for Thailand's reform should be created in order to turn political fight into cooperation," social critic Prawase Wasi said Friday.

He called on all sides to push for reform that centred on the decentralisation of power, adding that the political struggle would reoccur if power continued to be left in the hands of one ruling party.

Relevant parties need to reach an agreement on reform if future bloodshed is to be avoided, he said.

Former Supreme Administrative Court president Ackaratorn Chularat said the media had a vital role to play in disseminating accurate information on the current political climate, allowing people to form their own judgement.

If people can draw their own conclusions, then the situation will not spiral out of control, he said.

He dismissed the idea of seeking a royal intervention or getting the government to negotiate with protest leaders, saying the current situation was beyond that point.

Should the government decide not to heed protesters' demands, the stand-off would continue indefinitely, he said.

"We are trapped by an illusory idea of democracy - that it simply means an elected government - when in reality, democratic rule comprises of so many other elements," he said.

Democrat MP Nakorn Machim said a representative picked by university presidents should moderate talks between the five relevant parties - namely the prime minister, the opposition leader, party leaders, representatives from all political colours and the Association of University Presidents.

Nakorn said the talks should aim at setting up a Constitution drafting assembly to rewrite the charter within six months, paving way for House dissolution and a snap election.

After the polls, all sides should cooperate to implement major reforms, he said.

Meanwhile, People's Empowerment Foundation Friday issued a statement calling on all political parties to avoid provocation and hatred.

The foundation, along with its network of allies, said democracy should be kept alive, and warned against resorting to a military coup or a "royally-sponsored prime minister".

It called on leaders of the anti-government protest to clarify their demand for a so-called people's council. It also called on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to be ready to dissolve the House of Representatives if the situation got out of control.

Separately, the Chulalongkorn Doctors Network for the Protection of Ethics issued a three-point statement calling on the government to issue an apology for its contempt of the Constitutional Court.

It said the prime minister, the House speaker and the Senate speaker should take responsibility and step down.

It also said the MPs and senators who voted for the charter changes should apologise to the people before resigning en masse.