An open letter to MR Pridiyathorn Devakula

An open letter to MR Pridiyathorn Devakula

MR Pridiyathorn Devakula wrote an open letter to Her Excellency Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday. The contents of the open letter is already public knowledge. The issues were raised in parliament during the no-confidence debate, and everything was already explained.

It is also information that was being discussed in public before and after the House dissolution. Since the protests started, the protesters have been using the information that MR Pridiyathorn published to make daily allegations, using it as an excuse to call for reform.

On Thursday, MR Pridiyathorn Devakula repeated the same old information like a broken record. What he presented is nothing new. There's no new information, no new opinions, be they about the economy, society, politics, or the status of the government.

MR Pridiyathorn was deputy prime minister for the economy as well as finance minister in the government after the September 2006 coup. The measures he issued to prevent capital flight led to the meltdown of the stock market.

He knew well that this government decided to give people back the power to make a political decision as the owners of sovereign power to determine the future of the country without interference or domination of their thoughts by any individuals or any particular groups of people.

So that the public is aware of the information accurately, I would like to clarify these points:

The rice-pledging scheme started in October 2011 and continued for four consecutive harvesting seasons. They were 2011/12 (2) wet-season rice 2012/13 (sic) (3) wet-season rice 2012/13 and (4) dry-season rice 2013/14.

The government efficiently paid the rice farmers under the pledging scheme a total of over 600 billion baht. For the wet-season rice 2013/14, the scheme was approved on Sept 3, 2013 and the pledging started from Oct 1, 2013 onward. The payments were made efficiently during the early phase. And we already paid 60 billion baht without any delays.

Due to political problems caused by the opposition, however, the annual budget approval became delayed, followed by the seizure of the Finance Ministry, the Budget Bureau, and the resignations of the opposition, leading to the House dissolution. The government then had to follow legal procedures to find more money. There have been organised efforts to threaten banks and state agencies which have further delayed the efforts to obtain the money. But the Finance Ministry continues to do our duty in accordance with the cabinet resolutions and relevant laws, carefully and correctly.

MR Pridiyathorn's point about the accounting committee for the rice-pledging scheme which he used to make his allegation is simply unfair. What MR Pridiyathorn and others who attack the rice-pledging scheme do not talk about is the value of rice in the stocks. These rice stocks still have monetary value, including the difference, which is actually in the rice farmers' hands.

Regarding the alternative energy policy under the energy strategy (solar cell project), it is a policy that has been carried out by successive governments. MR Pridiyathorn should know full well that the procedures involved in implementing this policy involve many state agencies, which give rise to many problems. He himself must have faced similar problems when he was a cabinet minister.

Concerning the procedures in issuing the Ror Ngor 4 permits, this government has not been idle. The National Energy Policy Committee held a meeting in October 2013 to solve the permit problems by asking for exemption from the Industry Ministry. But this requires amendment of the laws and regulations concerned, which takes time.

Regarding the (government's) national reform plan, there are no problems in creating a participatory process to involve the people, institutions, organisations, or in getting their acceptance. Nor are there problems of confidence in the government's reforms as claimed by MR Pridiyathorn.

In fact, we need to understand that political reform can take place in parallel with the general election. There's no need to "freeze" the country during political reform. This is because the problems in the country have many dimensions. The economic problems, in particular, are very dynamic. It is therefore necessary to have a government with full authority to run the country continuously.

At present, Thailand has made another step forward with a successful poll on Sunday. Nearly 90% of the polling stations successfully organised the election. More than 20 million people went to cast their votes. Although several areas still face problems in organising re-elections, I believe that the Election Commission, the government, the private sector, as well as civil society groups can join hands to maintain the democratic system to organise re-elections in all districts.

MR Pridiyathorn is still glued to an old issue, which is the same one as the protesters, in a manner that makes him appear to be in alliance with them. It is the attitude of hopelessness towards the democratic system and elections, which are people's fundamental right. This is tantamount to showing disrespect to the intentions of 20 million people who came out to vote, who have chosen to be patient and to firmly adhere to democratic principles.

Lastly, the similar calls by MR Pridiyathorn and the protesters for the prime minister to resign evidently show their line of thought which does not adhere to democracy. They also ignore the fact that the continuation in office of the government and the prime minister will guarantee the continuation of a democratic system under the constitution. This should also help strengthen confidence among the international community that Thailand has a strong political system, in which citizens are equal under a democratic system, and is determined to develop a strong democracy under the constitutional monarchy even further.

Kittiratt Na-Ranong is caretaker finance minister. The article is translated from his Facebook post in response to MR Pridiyathorn Devakula's letter calling on caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.

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