Banharn on sticky path as latest 'kao jai'
It is a tradition for many people to make a wish for the New Year to come, or express good wishes to their loved ones, friends and even foes at this time. Chart Thai Pattana Party advisory chairman Banharn Silpa-archa made a wish too on this fun-filled and happy occasion, and made a commitment as well.
- Published: 4/01/2013 at 11:10 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The seasoned politician told well-wishers who attended him at his home in Suphan Buri on Dec 30 that since his five-year political banishment would end on Wednesday (Jan 2) he would dedicate himself to trying to bring about national reconciliation.
He said he would serve as a “kao jai” (glue of the heart) and foster better, mutual understanding between all the conflicting political parties and colour-coded political groupings.
Chart Thai Pattana Party advisory chairman and former prime minister Banharn Silpa-archa (Photo by Pattarachai Preechapanich)
Mr Banharn, who turned 80 last year, said that as a peacemaker he would meet with all the leading figures of Thailand’s great political divide, including fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai, and talk to them about reconciling their conflict for the sake of the country.
He then set three conditions he said must be met if reconciliation is to become a reality:
Firstly, the need to search for the truth; secondly, to remedy and rehabilitate for the sake of righteousness; and, thirdly, the setting of political rules which are fair, and no double-standard interpretation of the rules.
It came as little surprise that Mr Banharn’s offer of his free services for the sake of reconciliation was greeted with strong scepticism and suspicion by the Democrat camp. Democrat list MP Banyat Bantadtan reminded Mr Banharn of the failures of a few other kao jai before him, namely Maj-Gen Sanan Kachornprasart of the Chart Thai Pattana Party and former advisory chairman of the Pheu Thai Party Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the man who first coined the phrase kao jai.
Mr Banyat said it was pointless for someone to talk about reconciliation while they were behaving in just the opposite way. For reconciliation to be realised, he said, those who wield the real power, or who have a lot of vested interest, must sacrifice first.
He suggested that if the government just focuses on doing its job in earnest, that would be enough for reconciliation’s sake.
Democrat Party MP Thavorn Senniam (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
Another Democrat MP, Thavorn Senniam, was even more blunt in his reaction to Mr Banharn. He said the Chart Thai Pattana advisory chairman should ask himself first whether his reconciliation plan was meant for the good of the country or for any particular individuals.
Honestly speaking, I feel the two Democrat bigwigs' comments were too harsh on Mr Banharn and pre-judged him in an unfair manner. Such a negative attitude does not work well for the party’s reputation of “blaming all others except itself for all the country’s misfortunes and political ills”.
First of all, I think Mr Banharn should be commended for offering to do a job which has slim chance of success, given the intense hostility and mutual mistrust between all the conflicting political parties and groupings.
I do not know whether Mr Banyat and Mr Thavorn have a full grasp of the three conditions for reconciliation set out by Mr Banharn because I, too, am confused by them. The three conditions need to be clarified, especially the third condition, which is cryptic.
Firstly, about the truth. What truths? Does Mr Banharn mean the truth about the origin of Thailand’s long-standing political divide? If that is the case, I think that the Kanit na Nakhon Truth and Reconciliation Commission has already given the answer.
Before embarking on his reconciliation crusade, I suggest that Mr Banharn first clarifies his three conditions, so that they are clearly understood by all side. It would make his selfless endeavour much easier if the conditions were straightforward, clearly in the interests of reconciliation and with no hidden agenda.
Otherwise his crusade may well founder before it even gets started.
About the author
- Writer: Veera Prateepchaikul
- Position: Former Editor