Target widens to 'Thaksin regime'
Coalition pushes for curbs on state power, greater public involvement and a Senate free of Thai Rak Thai 'nominees'
A grand people power-style coalition is pushing for political reform to get rid of the "Thaksin regime" by reducing the power of the state, increasing people's participation in the democratic process and unmasking "nominees" of the Thai Rak Thai Party in this month's Senate election.
At a seminar on political reform held by the National Human Rights Commission, Nirun Phitakwatchara, an ex-senator from Ubon Ratchathani, said the Thaksin regime has destroyed the political, economic and social structure of Thailand. The media have also come under its sway, he said. He said the next round of political reform must get rid of the Thaksin regime by reducing the role of the state and involving more public input in politics, otherwise the nation will turn into a corporation.
Under intense pressure to resign amidst allegations he lacked legitimacy, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced on Tuesday that he would not assume the premiership in the next government. But he would continue as caretaker premier until his successor is picked. After that his function in the next government would be to serve as an MP and head of the Thai Rak Thai Party so that he could push for the party's key policies.
Although Thaksin has made an apparent tactical retreat, few believe that he will not continue to exert his clout over politics. Thaksin is one of the country's most powerful leaders, with the power of his regime spreading to big business, the military, police, bureaucracy, Senate and House of Representatives, the independent institutions formed to check on the executive branch and people at the grassroots level.
Nirun said Thaksin may have decided not to head the new government, but he will stick around in politics. And that would allow him to pull the strings when the next prime minister is chosen.
"We have to use every means to nullify the election. It's a fake election, influenced by the Thaksin regime," he said.
The next step for people's politics is to probe the conflict of interest in the public policies implemented by the Thaksin administration from the free-trade agreements and privatisation programme to the mega-project scheme, he said.
Jon Ungphakorn, also an ex-senator, said the People's Alliance for Democracy, which has been campaigning strenuously to jettison Thaksin, should review its role by possibly ending its rallies. Thaksin has already agreed to step aside, so the alliance must respond likewise to avoid public criticism.
But the alliance must not stop its activities altogether: It could go for selective campaigns aimed at specific results, he said.
The alliance's rally planned for today at Sanam Luang must raise three important points, he said.
First, a probe must be launched into the alleged corruption of the Thaksin government and the assets of the prime minister and his family. Attempts should also be made to void the April 2 election.
Second, the media must be allowed to operate freely. People working on the government's behalf must stop intervening in the media by resigning from all positions at media organisations. Jon said he has learned that a confidant of the prime minister was stationed at MCOT for two days in order to check on its Modernine TV.
Third, Thai Rak Thai proxies are running in the Senate election on April 19 and all provinces must announce the names of the candidates running under the influence of that party so people will not vote for them, he said.
Revadee Charoensuk, an activist, also said a network of 27 NGOs and other organisations have come together to call for political reform with the goals of vanquishing the Thaksin regime and creating a more just society.
The network issued a statement calling for a higher profile for the public in political affairs and in the writing of a new Constitution.