Pheu Thai says military's unity plan flawed

Past problems 'will be repeated', leader says

Pheu Thai's Chaturon Chaisang, arrested twice for his outspoken opposition to the 2014 coup, says reconciliation has no chance unless military thinking is reformed. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Pheu Thai Party heavyweight Chaturon Chaisang has criticised the government's draft "social contract" for national-unity building for failing to touch on the role of the military which is seen as a crucial factor for reconciliation.

Mr Chaturon said: "There has been no discussion about the role of military and government's mechanism which did not support elected governments. It created the conditions for a conflict in order to make them look like a white knight.

"The issue has never been mentioned in the reconciliation process. Therefore, there is no guarantee the past problems would not be repeated," said the former education minister who was ousted after the military coup on May 22, 2014.

From today until July 20, the National Unity and Reconciliation Creation Committee will hold a public hearing on the drafted "social contract" as a guideline towards national reconciliation.

Mr Chaturon said he does not believe the social contract will lead to national unity.

"The draft contract has many flaws and weaknesses. Experts in conflict resolutions and reconciliation did not take part in the process equally. There is no independent organisation or neutral party to analyse the information or comments to submit to the committee," he said.

"The social contract is unlikely to lead to conflict resolutions. It is thus useless for political parties, politicians or political activists to endorse the contract."

Committee spokesman Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich previously said the committee had analysed public opinions to find out how to stop conflicts and restore peace.

Mr Chaturon also criticised the draft of an organic law on criminal procedures for political office-holders of violating legal standards because it does not protect the rights of suspects or defendants. "The law has a political motive," he said.

If the statute of limitations has not expired while a fugitive suspect is on the run, the law change would allow the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to order a trial to proceed in absentia.

Pheu Thai politicians say they disagree with many aspects of the draft law, including the clause that effectively allows the court to hear cases against indicted politicians in absentia. Pol Lt Gen Viroj Paoin, a caretaker leader of the Pheu Thai Party, said: "No civilised countries write a law like this. It does not allow defendants to fight. I have been in the justice system for 30-40 years, and I have never seen any law that blocks the defendant's chance to fight a charge."

Lt Gen Viroj added: "I want to warn people in power today that what goes around, comes around."

The bill is among 10 organic laws that need to be written to complement the new constitution ahead of the next general election.

Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to Thaksin Shinawatra, said he raised three points about the organic law. First, if the law is in line with international principles, a trial must take place with the defender present to protect his rights.

Secondly, the law stipulates the statute of limitations does not cover the period of time in which indicted politicians flee the country after their cases are brought to court. Mr Noppadon said: "It is against the principle that everyone is equally protected by the law.''

Thirdly, the draft law is written to be retroactive. "I want to ask whether it is appropriate. The lawmakers could not explain whether the law was meant to target a particular group or specific people," he said.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said: "It is up to the lawmakers. For the sake of the country moving on, we should encourage good people to run the country by outlining ways to disable bad people from abusing their power. My advice is not to run away."

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