Suthep coy on accepting Pheu Thai poll win

‘‘ This is a matter for the Pheu Thai Party, now is not the right time. Suthep Thaugsuban Former protest leader

Former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban declined on Friday to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.

Speaking after meeting with the sub-committee in charge of collecting input for the reconciliation campaign, Mr Suthep said, "I do not know. This is a matter for the Pheu Thai Party, now is not the right time."

However, he assured that as long as the polls were in line with the regulations, he would respect the result.

Mr Suthep, who is now chairman of the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation, also stood firm in his call for "reform before elections" as his group met a government panel to provide input on national reconciliation at the government's invitation.

Mr Suthep said he was not bothered if the roadmap would have to be extended to implement reforms.

He stressed that political reform should be given the top priority while pledging to give the Prayut Chan-o-cha government full support to achieve the task.

He also said the group had no problem with the regime enforcing Section 44 of the interim charter to facilitate the government's efforts in tackling pressing problems.

Earlier, the foundation unveiled the group's five-point proposal which would help foster unity-building efforts.

Top of the proposals was the need for political reform. Political parties should be revamped to ensure their independence from financiers while the Election Commission should be restructured to make it work more efficiently.

Justice administration and police reform should also be a priority to better address corruption problems. The police force should be decentralised to prevent lobbying or the buying of positions.

The decentralisation of power was also needed with provincial governors being screened by a selection process.

Social and economic disparity should also be tackled to prevent future conflicts and guarantee that reconciliation would be maintained. Education reform would also be a good thing to start.

The group also called for measures to help people develop their skills and boost their incomes. A "sufficiency line" should be established and those living below that line should be eligible to receive state assistance.

The call came as the sub-committee chaired by defence permanent secretary Gen Chaicharn Changmongkol wrapped up the input-gathering hearing from political parties and groups.

The Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation was the last to offer its suggestions after the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship gave its input on national reconciliation on Wednesday.

The red-shirt group called on the government to revoke all regulations and powers issued by the coup makers to guarantee the people full freedom and liberty.

According to the group, Section 44 stood in the way of forging national unity and the country needed a new constitution wholly drafted with the exercise of democratic power through public participation.

A total of 46 political parties and groups have met the committee which started the process on Feb 14. Civic groups and academic institutes would be invited to give their opinions next starting with the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand and the Institute of Future Studies for Development.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who chairs the government committee on national reconciliation, is expected to call a meeting this Monday to evaluate the process.

The suggestions will be compiled and developed into proposals by another sub-committee chaired by army commander Chalermchai Sittisat and presented to the political parties and groups when they are invited for a second round.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday that he was confident the government's reconciliation-building campaign would succeed otherwise he would not have initiated it.

He was responding to a reporter's question that he did not seem sure the unity-building efforts would succeed when he addressed the matter which came up in his speech delivered at "Mobilising Thailand 4.0: Agriculture, Food and Biotechnology", organised by Kasetsart University, one of Thailand's leading universities in the field of agriculture.

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