By KAS CHANWANPEN
POLITICIANS FROM leading parties warned yesterday that the junta-led national strategy and reform plans could obstruct the work of future governments.
Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, a key member of Pheu Thai Party, said that though the reform was supposedly pushed for the national interest, public participation in the process was lacking.
“We have to think about the goal. Is the goal [to benefit] the people? If so, then their participation is essential,” said Sudarat, speaking on a panel on future politics hosted as part of this month’s anniversary of the “Black May” crackdown in 1992.
Though many assemblies and committees had been set up by the junta to plan national reform, Sudarat said their members might lack the first-hand knowledge that ordinary people had of the issues being tackled. So it was doubtful reform would really respond to the people’s needs and expectations.
Also, she said she failed to see the difference between the 20-year national strategy plan and the existing five-year economic and social development plan.
Sudarat expressed surprise that the junta government was confident enough to write a plan to cover 20 years when events and circumstances changed so fast. “Even well-prepared private companies revise plans every two or three year because of the rapid changes,” she said.
Sudarat also echoed growing concern at how future governments would be limited by the junta’s national strategy. It would also curb voters’ choices since parties could not formulate policies that fell outside the 20-year strategy, she said.
Sora-at Klinpratoom, a key member of the Bhum Jai Thai Party, agreed that the 20-year strategy was a bold move but said he was willing to follow it and hoped the people would understand that parties had limitations.
However, the Bhum Jai Thai man was non-committal about joining the military to form a coalition. He said the party would wait for the election results before making a decision.
Meanwhile, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he detected little sign of national reform in the past four years and remained doubtful about progress. The national strategy, for instance, was still only a draft paper despite years of junta rule, he said.
However, the former prime minister said he remained steadfastly opposed to the junta-drafted Constitution.
Abhisit was critical of the constitutional role of the 250 junta-appointed senators, who are widely perceived as a force that will back the junta’s extended grip on power after the election. He said that the Senate should respect the people’s decision shown through the election of MPs. If it did not, it could lead to conflicts, he said.