Government drafting 20-year reform plan

pix 3A Thai government committee has been tasked with drafting a plan for reforming the country that will take 20 years to fully implement, a government spokesman said last week, while adding that future governments will have flexibility in implementing or adjusting the reforms.

The new plan will be based on the results of the National Reform Committee, which is drafting reforms for 11 areas including politics, the economy, security, the bureaucracy, health and other social sectors. The plan by the new committee will touch on politics, the economy, social affairs, legal affairs and foreign affairs. It will also incorporate elements of the country’s 12th five-year national economic and social development plan written by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), and recommendations from state agencies.

The overall reform plan generated by the committee will be complementary to the official national development plans so that future governments will have flexibility in implementing or altering reforms in key areas such as the economy. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said that the plan’s implementation would be divided into four periods of five years each.

The new committee will consist of representatives of the Secretariat of the Cabinet, the NESDB, the Budget Bureau, the National Security Council, and the Council of State and its plan will be submitted to parliament.

“Any government that thinks it cannot implement the national strategic plan can seek amendments on how an economic plan can be amended. We will not force future governments to comply with our plan, since it [would not be] fair,” Wissanu said.

Although the plan was originally supposed to be created by the National Reform Committee, Wissanu said the task must be handed to a new committee to ensure it will be finalized before elections takes place. The government has said the public can expect elections late next year.

Meanwhile, the Constitution Drafting Committee said it will retain key provisions that allow public demonstrations in the new charter. The new draft charter had specified that demonstrations could be held “within a public space,” but it has now broadened the article to indicate that demonstrations could be held anywhere.

A separate law on demonstrations, however, specifies that demonstrations are permissible if they do not infringe on the rights or benefits of others.

Thailand has endured several mass public demonstrations by opposing political groups during the past decade, with government buildings, shopping districts and even airports being occupied by demonstrators.

Some have called for stricter laws on public demonstrations to prevent them from infringing on others’ rights, such as businesses in the area or people who live nearby. The right to protest publicly has been a feature of modern Thai democracy except during brief periods to restore peace and public order. The right to protest, however, has always been restored and is regarded as a key element of Thailand’s political culture.


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