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Govt should adapt past studies on reconciliation: peace advocate

Jan 18. 2017
 Ekachai
Ekachai
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By THE NATION

A RESPECTED peace advocate has suggested the government bring past studies on conflict and reconciliation to the table to help to guide its renewed efforts toward reconciliation.

General Ekachai Srivilas, a former member of the National Reform Council (NRC), said various studies on the issue that could prove useful had been carried out previously, and the government should consider them to implement recommendations.

“I believe that if the government is determined enough, the task could be accomplished within this year as aimed for,” said Ekachai, who is also director of peace and governance at the King Prajadhipok Research Institute.

The past studies, praised by many peace advocates for their thoroughness, include a report done after the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt protesters by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, chaired by the legal expert Kanit Na Nakorn, and a report prepared by the NRC’s reconciliation study committee.

The government has launched a renewed effort towards reconciliation along with other reforms and national strategy development by creating a new super-structure overseeing work done by various disparate agencies. Authorities have said they expected tangible outcomes before the government leaves office.

The new structure – known as the administrative committee for reform, reconciliation and national strategy – will have key committees in charge of each area of work, including reconciliation. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as head of the National Council for Peace and Order, issued a new order under Article 44 to put it into effect on Tuesday.

Ekachai said reconciliation should be open to all sides and he supported the idea of the government giving politicians and other concerned groups the opportunity for talks. However, the project should address clearly the means and goals, he added.

“At least, it should say clearly that it will give a chance for political parities to have a meeting and propose ideas to the government,” he said.

Ekachai said efforts in the past failed because of the lack of tolerance of different views, biases and the lack of a shared vision for the future.

He said these were issues should be paid attention to in the latest efforts. Reconciliation, he added, needed to be carried out for all groups – from leaders to ordinary citizens, and in every legal step, with amnesty being the last point.

“Importantly, all sides should take part. My experience is reconciliation cannot be achieved by power and orders,” said Ekachai, alluding to the observation that the newly appointed panel to realise reconciliation was dominated by senior officials.

Meanwhile, Supreme Commander General Surapong Suwana-adth said during a ceremony on Thai Armed Forces Day that the Army would fully back the government’s initiative, saying the problems needed to be fixed together as focusing on only certain areas of work would not see much progress.

“It’s like our car gets stuck in a mud. You cannot pull only one wheel to get the car out of it, but four at once,” said Surapong.

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