A veteran peace advocate has urged the government to drop its charter amendment drive and opt for a new process that offers more public input.
Gothom Arya, a lecturer at Mahidol University's Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, said more dialogue is needed to solve the political impasse.
Mr Gothom is working on a one-year project designed to encourage political tolerance. The project, which began in February, is sponsored by the US Agency for International Development.
Mr Gothom said his project would complement and not duplicate other peace-building efforts being carried out, including the work of the National Reform Assembly and the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
"We have held forums in various regions to sound out issues that are of local interest. For example, in the North, discussions focus on provincial self-administration, while in the Northeast they dwell on sustainable natural resource management," Mr Gothom said.
Mr Gothom said the Pheu Thai government should refrain from voting in favour of the draft amendment. It should instead allow a new process that includes more public input in the drafting process.
He said charter drafters could be selected from each province by local and provincial administrative organisations, or all drafters could be elected in each province.
The charter could then be presented for a public referendum before being submitted to parliament for endorsement.
"The ruling government may have adequate votes to do whatever they need in the parliament, but garnering as many voices from the public as possible in the process will prevent
[the charter] from being rejected later," Mr Gothom said.
On the controversial April-May 2010 crackdown on anti-government protesters, Mr Gothom said a definitive truth is unlikely to be revealed, noting that reports by the TRC and the People's Information Centre already offer different conclusions.
"The Department of Special Investigation and the National Human Rights Commission will soon come out with their own reports too. But what we have yet to see is a show of responsibility from leaders on all sides," Mr Gothom said.
A discussion on the charter amendment will be held in Bangkok next week as part of Mr Gothom's project.
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- Writer: Achara Ashayagachat