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Chuan Leekpai defends democracy at Phuket seminar

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Chuan Leekpai defends democracy at Phuket seminar | Thaiger

PHUKET: Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai said in a speech in Phuket on Saturday that Thailand’s political crisis stems not from flaws in the democratic system, but from the self-serving actions of some individuals.

Mr Chuan, a senior advisor to the Democrat Party, was speaking at Royal Phuket City Hotel at a seminar entitled “Reforming the Country at a Time of Change”. The event was organized by the National Economic Advisory Council.

Change was a continual process and not confined to any particular period; over the years the country’s various crises had had many causes, both internal and external, he said.

For example, the 1997 economic meltdown – the “Tom Yum Goong Crisis” – had internal causes. On the other hand, the economic problems of 2008 and 2009 stemmed from the global economic factors, he said.

Thailand’s current political crisis could not be blamed on external factors, but came from within. It resulted from a political conflict giving rise to a societal one, he said.

The democratic political system had not caused the conflict, and it was necessary to define this as a conflict arising from individuals, not from the system, he said.

Mr Chuan then made a thinly veiled attack on former prime minister Thaksin Shinatwatra’s handling of the unrest in Thailand’s southern border provinces.

In the year 2000 [during Mr Chuan’s second term as prime minister] there were only 13 terrorist incidents in the Deep South. It was recently reported that between 2004 and 2010 there were more than 1,000 such incidents, with more than 4,000 deaths and almost 10,000 injuries, he said.

In trying to fix such problems one should not experiment with policy, because this was not like fixing an economic problem. If the economy is damaged, money can be found from other sources, but if a life is lost, it can never be replaced, he said.

The problems that have occurred are the fault of the political sphere. There has been a change of political policy, giving rise to conflict among the people in order to gain political advantage. Small areas in the South have been overlooked in favor of choosing to develop the provinces which elect MP candidates from that political party. This can be regarded as a cause of division and a form of discrimination. On this point the Council must have understanding.

However, Thailand is still better because this is not a religious conflict. We can compare ourselves with Iraq, where the Shia sect and the Sunni sect are in conflict, and we can see how the situation has ended up. We should observe that the [Thai] people have chosen a politics in which we can be divided. But this should not cause the nation’s society to divide.

I was an MP for a long time and constantly used the various Constitutions. I believe that the problems have not come from the letter of the law, but from those who use them and how they restrictively interpret the Constitution. Do they use it for the country? For the majority? For the institutions of Nation, Religion and King? Or do they use it for themselves?

Because of this, in order to fix the conflicts that have taken place the government must follow the law without exception, without discrimination. This will make everything better and will be accepted.

“The country’s law has been put in place to be followed, but there are some points that have to be adjusted in order to bring justice,” Mr Chuan said.

 

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