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Future of the NRC reform agenda lies in Meechai's hands

Oct 13. 2015
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IT'S SURPRISING to hear that Meechai Ruchuphan, chief of the new Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), appears to have no ideas for the new charter, despite the fact that reform agenda from the now-defunct National Reform Council (NRC) is already in the
This reform agenda is supposed to be used as a guideline for the new charter, otherwise reform cannot be enforced, as there will be no legal instrument to help the agenda materialise. 
Also, the new 21-member CDC does not need to seek any new thoughts on the subject because the NRC claims it has collected opinions from people across the country. 
The junta, after all, spent more than Bt700 million for the NRC to produce 62 reports on 37 reform agenda, while the 250-member NRC spent nearly a year mapping out the master plan. 
However, all of that will be wasted if the new constitution fails to accommodate the reform agenda, and things will never change in this country.
Also, there is no point in relying on the newly appointed National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), because this 200-member body does not really have any power to enforce reform plans. 
Some members of the NRSA are insisting that they will introduce changes from A to Z, speaking as if they have a clear mandate and authority. Perhaps the assembly was just created as a symbol to justify the military-backed government’s hold on power. 
The existence of the NRSA only gives legitimacy to political discourse on “reform before election”. Most of them know well enough that they have no real power to introduce any reforms. All the NRSA can really do is say it will help the Cabinet enforce the changes and spend a lot of time holding meetings. 
Meanwhile, in its paper – “Vision for Thailand’s Strategic Reform and Adjustment of State Apparatus” – the NRC said it aims to turn Thailand into a “first-world country”. 
The paper divided nations into three categories: the first-world or developed countries; middle-income countries like Thailand as second-world countries; and third-world or developing countries. 
The paper pointed out that Thailand needs to change its socio-economic structure from “value-added industrial economy” – its current status which contains a lot of inequality and development gaps – to “value-creation-knowledge economy”. 
According to the paper, the biggest challenge for Thailand is finding a way to change from being a “pseudo democracy”, mostly dominated by aristocrats and money politics, into a “true democracy” with the monarchy as head of state.
It pointed out that the Kingdom has to deal with non-traditional threats and one of the key challenges is adjusting Thai civilisation to meet the modern-world civilisation.
As per the paper, Thailand |will achieve the aim of becoming |a first-world country with true |democracy by 2032 – a century |after the 1932 revolution. 
However, to achieve this goal, Thailand needs some serious enforcement of new regulations to help pull it through turbulence. And in order to do this, a lot of laws need to be changed or adjusted. 
So what happens if the new charter, which Meechai’s commission is about to draft, offers a new vision or one that contradicts the NRC’s vision?
Of course, the new charter will have to be enforced as the supreme law of the nation; however, the reform agenda that cost the country Bt700 million and took nearly a year to be written, will just be dropped like a piece of trash. 

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