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Country must embrace 'New Politics' or implode- Suriyasai

With no end in sight, the months-long protest by the People's Alliance for Democracy is driving politics to a dead end with little chance of a solution. Many questions are being asked of the PAD.

Country must embrace 'New Politics' or implode- Suriyasai

 The Nation's Sathien Viriyapanpongsa talked to PAD coordinator Suriyasai Katasila about its stand.

Q : It seems the PAD will not get off the tiger's back. On what condition will the PAD stop the demonstrations?

S : Now, we have two tasks. We are not only opposing the proxy government but we are also pushing for new politics. We must lead the society from old politics to new politics. In 2006, we fought only to free the country from the grip of Thaksin [Shinawatra] without laying out long-term measures. Eventually, we got Thaksin episode 2 in the form of a proxy government. We have learned a lesson to upgrade our fight to a new level.

We need to plan what we want next after winning this fight. Eventually, the PAD will have to re-evaluate itself to see whether it has done its best, and whether we are tired and should stop. It's not true that we have no way to halt this. We can stop anytime but we have gone this far and we have a chance to become successful.

Now, senior people in society and the media have debated this issue a lot so it is part of our success. In the past, no one dared to move to new politics although they were fed up with this kind of politics. The PAD is now doing that.

But the current Parliament shows no interest in taking up the PAD proposal of new politics to deliberate. In particular, the three PM candidates [Somchai Wongsawat, Sompong Amornwiwat and Surapong Suebwonglee] seem to ignore the proposal.

A puppet prime minister, who will come from the three, cannot support new politics because the People Power Party has its mission to return power, interests and honour to Thaksin. It wants to reinstall the business politics so that business tycoons can dominate politics.

Q : How about the choice of Chart Thai leader Banharn Silapa-archa as the prime minister?

S : The choice of Banharn would be unexplainable for society and the PAD cannot be sure whether he will forget his five-point promise when he works with the PPP. When he joined the coalition, he demanded that Thaksin had to stand trial, but now Thaksin has fled the country and issued a statement criticising the courts, so Banharn has no legitimacy left.

Q : So, there is only one choice left - having coalition partners switch sides to join the Democrat Party to form a coalition. Will the PAD stop protesting in this case?

If the political condition does not change and the next government will still become a proxy government after September 17 [when the House will elect the new prime minister], we will have to come out with new campaign tactics. We can't stop but we'll have to go on fighting. It will matter only how we will fight.

Q : Will PAD propose establishment of a government of national unity?

S : We'll have to wait and see the composition of such a national government first. If the government is composed of all political parties in the House like what Abhisit [Vejjajiva, Democrat leader] proposed, the politics will remain in quota system and the PPP will retain the majority vote. Will such a national government be successful? Will the Democrat be able to work with the PPP, which has a completely different stand? How could the Democrat explain this to society?

Q : So, it is like that the PAD will propose a government with a non-MP becoming the prime minister?

S : We will think about this during a meeting today. We will announce our official stand regarding to the national government and non-MP prime minister choice.

Q : According to your initial discussion, how will the non-MP prime minister be?

S : Our principle is that political reform must be done by non-politicians. Although a non-MP prime minister is appointed to carry out political reform, the society must also take charge, not the prime minister.

But we affirm that the PAD won't accept a non-MP prime minister who is appointed by the military after a coup. We don't think that such a measure will be successful. But the military can take part by proposing its principles. If the military has a proposal that can help the society move forward, the PAD will be ready to talk with the military and cooperate to lead the country out of the crisis.

Q : So will the next prime minister be a representative of the elite class?

It will be okay to have a prime minister from the elite class as long as he has a clear mission. That is, he must have a mission to push for new politics and he must be free from control of the government, political parties, Parliament and politicians, and he must have society take charge of political reform.

Q : But if the prime minister comes from the elite class, he will design new politics to benefit members of his class and the majority of the people will not receive benefits?

S : I think he will represent the elite class only symbolically. Society must be the one to determine the direction of political reform. But during the transition period, sometimes, it needs influence of the leader. But not all changes in the past, which were supervised by members of elite class, were designed to benefit the elite class.

For example, when Anand Panyarachun was the prime minister, he was seen as a member of the elite class but the 1997 constitution incredibly had many points that favoured the people.

Or the 2007 charter, which originated from the military, is more advanced than the 1997 charter. For example, it was required to be approved by national referendum first. And the Council for National Security ordered the drafter to allow non-MPs to become the prime minister, the drafters refused to comply.

Sometimes, the transition of politics did not depend on whether the leader is an elite or not, but it depends on whether we could arouse the people to take part in political reform and try to fight for their interest. I think this will determine the outcome.

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