Abhisit strikes back

I am disappointed that your editorial on Wednesday misrepresented my position regarding the issue of amending the constitution and failed to study the details of the current proposed amendments. My position for this matter has never wavered. I did say that the constitution should be amended and, during my administration, we passed two amendments in line with the recommendations of an all-party committee set up by the then parliament president.

Regarding my support for the election of senators, I have always insisted that this must come with a review of the power of the Senate. If we wanted a politically neutral Senate, we have to think about how not to fall into the same trap that we did during Thaksin Shinawatra's time in power. What's unacceptable with the current proposal is that it removes term limits and does not stipulate an electoral system (both stipulated in the 1997 constitution), which helps reduce interference by political parties and provincial powers.

Concerning the disbanding of political parties, while I agree that parties should not be disbanded because of electoral fraud, my stance has always been that executives and members of executive boards should take responsibility for any illegal actions that they are party to, or aware of, but fail to prevent. This is not what the current proposal seeks to do. Worse, it then goes on to remove the rights of individuals to take political parties whose actions undermine the constitution to the Constitution Court.

As for Article 190, we never supported going back to the pre-2007 charter where major international agreements on economic and trade need not be deliberated in parliament.

So please check your facts, look at previous parliamentary studies and expose the people who have truly been inconsistent and are now distorting the all-party recommendations. As leader of the Democrat Party, I can assure you that we have performed our duties during the past three days in parliament with the nation's interest at heart.

Leader of the Opposition

Visa stance favours rich

Re ''Power shift from West to East requires visa reciprocity'', BP, April 4. Thitinan Pongsudhirak's concern is easy to understand. Applying for a visa is rarely a friendly, welcoming process for most of us.

Thais who want a non-immigrant visa to the US or Europe must prove their intention to return to Thailand. This is usually by having a serious job and/or assets in Thailand to return to. Of course this favours the well-to-do.

Why is this? The US and Europe are still the gold standard of places to seek an illegal, grey economy job and potentially live better there than they can live legally in Thailand. But it is rare for a person from a first-world country to seek an illegal job in Thailand to improve their lives.

Visa reciprocity flies in the face of the economic and population pressures that visa regulations struggle to address. Prof Thitinan's idea to seek visa reciprocity is ahead of its time, but painfully so.


Paving the way to sense

I'm surprised that Bangkok authorities still use these little square slabs when laying pavements. Where I am staying in Sukhumvit it is virtually impossible to walk on the pavement as every slab is loose and sticking up in all directions. More an obstacle course than a leisurely walk. Surely if they can't afford to maintain these slabs, a better option would be to pour ready-mixed cement from a truck and have it levelled on the pavement. A nice grid-slab effect could be created by putting lines on the freshly poured concrete using a length of wood or metal. I notice that there is some form of black tarmacadam on part of the pavement. It is smooth and in perfect order.

It may not look posh but at least nobody is going to break their legs on it.


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