Somkiat warns crisis close to boiling point
Offers plan to fix protest standoff
Somkiat Tangkitvanich, president of the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), has come up with a set of proposals to solve the political crisis, including the role of parliament, and a national referendum to address the problem.
Mr Somkiat wrote on Facebook on Sunday that public opinion is split by age, particularly on sensitive issues such as the role of the monarchy.
The generational gap is widening so much so that it could lead to conflict that may get out of hand, he said. However, generational splits are still preferable to those with a racial or religious component, he said.
"For many Thais, the main question is what kind of political and governing system we should have and how the monarchy should play a role. Many have expressed their own opinions, and it is obvious there are still huge differences," Mr Somkiat said.
"Whatever happens, we will still continue to co-exist in Thailand and we cannot expel or get rid of the side [just because] they hold different opinions."
He went on to say the conflict has not yet reached a point where talks are impossible, adding it is fortunate the conflict besetting the country involves political ideologies, not religious or racial ones, which are hard to reverse.
There are no options for resolving the split other than through dialogue and the use of democratic means to settle disputes, he said.
The first solution is through the parliamentary process by constructive debate, with the House of Representatives playing a key role in seeking a way out of the conflict, Mr Somkiat said.
But if the parliamentary process is not successful, the next move will be to hold a national referendum for the people -- the real owner of sovereign power -- to make a decision, Mr Somkiat said.
He added the referendum should be held in a climate where each side can present their arguments fairly and safely without intimidation. That would help ensure all sides can accept the outcome of the referendum without any doubts lingering, as in the referendum on the constitution on Aug 7, 2016.
Mr Somkiat also suggested that informal talks be held between those involved in the conflict in parallel with formal procedures, with a person who is accepted by all sides acting as a mediator.
Such a dialogue should not be held openly or publicly because this will put so much pressure on negotiators that they are unable to adjust their position, Mr Somkiat said.
An open and safe climate is needed so all sides can voice their opinions and win the trust of each other, if the proposed solutions are to succeed, Mr Somkiat said.
This can be achieved by the government releasing those who were arrested on charges related to politically motivated offences and listening to protesters' proposals, he said.