‘Reform Before Election’ Would Ignite New Crisis, Official Warns

Anti-government protesters attempting to climb over the fence of Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok in this 4 December, 2013, file photo.

BANGKOK — A top member of the junta-appointed National Reform Council warned yesterday that a new round of crises will hit Thailand if the government agrees to postpone elections for two more years.

Alongkorn Pollabutr, the council’s secretary general, spoke out against the recent proposal by a faction of conservative council members that the ruling military junta extend its stay in power two years to accomplish its effort of “national reform” before any election is held.

“Any change to the road map will only breed disputes and deepen the woes of country, and it will be hard for our nation to get on its feet and move along the path of reform as we have hoped,” he said.

The hardliners faction, which numbers about 20 people, has expressed its intention to reject the draft of the new constitution penned by another junta-appointed body, to prolong the junta’s stay in power and postpone the scheduled election.

Citing a need to restore peace and order to the country, the military seized power from the civilian government in May 2014 amidst street protests that demanded the government to step down.

Under the current “road map” announced by the junta, the reform council will vote whether to accept the new charter on 7 September. Should it approve the charter, a national referendum will be held in early 2016, and a new election will take place later that year.

If a majority rejects the charter on 7 September, however, the entire process will return to the drawing board, starting with the creation of a new committee to draft another charter – possibly taking months to complete.

Amorn Wanitwiwat, one of the council hardliners, told reporters he believed the people should be allowed to decide on the two-year extension for the junta in the upcoming referendum.

“If a majority of the voters accept the issue about reform before election, it will reflect the opinion of the people, which has legitimacy,” Amorn said. “But if the majority says they don’t want a reform before election, we won’t do it. I insist that raising such question will not cause any confusion to the people.”

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Alongkorn urged all NRC members to “think of the country” and accept the new charter.

“Any action in this period will affect the country,” Alongkorn said. “If everyone on every side thinks of the country more than their own future or their personal gain, the country will have a future, because we will be able to move forward with a democratic regime under a new constitution.”

He warned that deviating from the plan would make things worse.

“The proposal to reject the draft constitution or to reform this country for two years was made with an intention to find a solution for the country, but I am afraid it would only cause a new crisis,” Alongkorn said.

 

Related stories:

Debate Flares Over Adding 'Reform Before Election' Question to Voters

Interim Parliament Chairman Rejects Suthep’s Call for ‘Reform Before Election’

 

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