Sonthi idea 'contrary to democracy'
The proposal of the junta leader to extend the term of village heads and kamnan from five to 10 years came under criticism yesterday.
Suriyasai Katasila, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD), and Ong-art Klampaiboon, spokesman of the Democrat Party, said the proposal of General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, chairman of the Council for National Security, would be contrary to democracy and the decentralisation of administrative power.
Sonthi said on Saturday that the term of the elected heads and kamnan should be extended so that they could better assist central government in tackling rural problems.
Suriyasai said Sonthi's proposal was a signal of a dangerous trend in Thai politics next year and showed that the CNS and interim government would reverse decentralisation.
The CPD is opposed to the CNS plan to increase the role of village heads and kamnan and reduce the role of tambon administrative organisations.
Suriyasai said if the CNS pushed for the proposal, it would face strong opposition from the public because the idea had become outdated in a democratic era and it might cause the public to think that the CNS and the government wanted to remain in power.
"I believe the government's stability will definitely be affected," he said.
Ong-art said since kamnan and village heads are elected, their term should be limited to five years as 10 years would be too long.
He did not understand why Sonthi wanted to extend the term, but thought that he might be trying to win support from these grassroots local administrators for the government and the CNS.
Kanin Bunsuwan, a former constitution drafter, said he believed that Sonthi floated the idea to signal to the new charter framers to include it in the new constitution.