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Abhisit to join TV show on reform and reconciliation

Jul 08. 2015
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By THE NATION

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COUNCIL TO INVITE OPPOSING GROUPS TO KICK-START DISCUSSIONS
DEMOCRAT Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday agreed to join the “Moving Reform Forward” television programme, an initiative of the junta government to lay the ground rules for the reform and reconciliation process.
In an attempt to discuss reconciliation and reform, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will invite political parties and groups – and many prominent political figures to participate in the TV programmes on Channel 5. 
 A source confirmed that the former premier was contacted by the military to join the programme on Monday July 13. Abhisit has already confirmed his presence. 
 Meanwhile, Korkaew Pikulthong, a red-shirt leader and former Pheu Thai Party MP, said that if an invitation is extended to former PM Yingluck Shinawatra, she will join the programme. He added that Yingluck was ready to fully cooperate. 
However, Korkaew wondered about the degree of openness in the discussions and the exchange of ideas in such a television programme.
Secretary-general of the NCPO General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh on Tuesday said the programme would bring together former heads of government, such as Yingluck and Abhisit. Politicians from Democrat and Pheu Thai Parties will also be there, as well as chairmen of each the National Reform Council (NRC)’s panels. 
So far, former energy minister Pichai Nariptapan has joined the programme and yesterday former education minister Chaturon Chaisang offered his opinions about education reform. 
The programme runs weekly on public Channel 5 from 9pm-10pm. 
When asked if the programme would invite students to join the discussion, the NCPO’s secretary-general said he welcomed all participation in this TV programme and that students had already been invited to take part. 
As for the 14 students recently released from prison after violating the NCPO’s order on political gathering, Chatchalerm said the Centre for Reconciliation and Reform would attend to the case of the 14 students. 
He said the country is now in a transition period, moving towards a new democratic government. He emphasised that the prime minister had no intention of staying on in power. 
Noppadon Pattama, former foreign minister under then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej, expressed his concerns over the future of Thailand. He feared that after the election the country would get stuck in a political impasse. He suggested all political parties agree on a political pact, guaranteeing political order and stability after the election.
Meanwhile, Anusit Kunakorn, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC), said yesterday that universities, academics and media should set up a public space for discussion, so people can voice their opinions and proposals on reform. 
However, he refused to comment on the release of the 14 students who were detained for defying government regulations and staging a rally against the coup, other than saying that the justice system should be allowed to handle it. 
He said he believes the students had good intentions, except their method of expressing their views was different. Hence, he said, a stage should be set up for lecturers and students to discuss and express their ideas freely. Also, he said, the NSC wants to invite the media to discuss the role it can play in the country’s future. 
“This is my own idea and I would like to be the one hosting it,” he said. 
Anusit added that since Thailand has been chaotic, even the slightest public movement could affect the stability of the country. 
Maintaining social order is the government’s job as is creating the right path for the country to move on, he said, adding that this did not depend on any particular group. 
From the NSC’s perspective, crimes stem from the violation and weak enforcement of law, he said, citing illegal fishing, human trafficking and the use of violence. Hence, he said, it was necessary to take disciplinary action and teach society to respect the law. 

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