By Kasamakorn Chanwanpen
HUMAN RIGHTS group iLaw yesterday slammed the junta-appointed National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) for not bringing about meaningful reform despite spending more than Bt1 billion of the state budget in the past 22 months.
A report by the NGO was released yesterday with the NRSA due to be dissolved at the end of this month following the promulgation of the new Constitution.
Although the NRSA has been working for more than two years and claims to have completed hundreds of plans for national reform, iLaw pointed out that more than half of its proposals were intangible.
The NRSA had submitted to the Cabinet a total of 131 reform reports, covering more than 1,300 issues. However, only some 320 of them, or 24.5 per cent, had been concrete enough for instant implementation, according to iLaw.
The rest were hazy concepts, the NGO said. For instance, the report on the promotion of “political culture of democracy” proposed an educational curriculum called “civic education” but gave no clear direction of how the curriculum should take place or what the outcome of the “political culture of democracy” should be, iLaw wrote.
In another example of vague educational reform, iLaw pointed out the NRSA had proposed a few different approaches but failed to conclude which one was the best to be adopted. More importantly, some reports had been proposed without any proper scientific support, iLaw said.
In an educational reform plan, aiming to ensure students become good people, the NRSA proposed that students take examinations on religion or ethics in their admission to university, iLaw said.
However, the NRSA did not provide any scientific support for why such an approach would help, it added.
Despite spending nearly Bt1.1 billion, the NRSA had failed to deliver fresh reform ideas. iLaw claimed that some of the proposals were only a brushed-up version of work previously done by other agencies.
Some proposals had been made despite them already being put into practice, according to iLaw.
The use of electronic monitoring or EM, which tracks prisoners on house arrest, was raised. iLaw explained that legislation has already been made, that prisoners in some cases could use the EM to ease prison overdensity.
Apart from that, iLaw also touched on the fact that some NRSA proposals had provoked controversy and could have steered the country backwards.
The agency mentioned the contentious media regulatory draft bill, that had been criticised as putting the media under governmental control, as well as the controversial suggestion of NRSA’s president Tinapan Nakata that the junta should use the sweeping power of the Article 44 to enact some 36 pieces of legislation.
In the past year and 10 months that the NRSA had been in office, iLaw calculated that it had used up almost Bt1.07 billion. The sum is derived from the salary of the members as well as the cost of operations and other expenditures such as allowances and the organisation of seminars.