Abhisit doubts PM's 'reform council'

Abhisit doubts PM's 'reform council'

No guarantee reforms would be implemented, says Abhisit

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday cast doubt on the caretaker premier’s proposed "National Reform Council", saying its probable aim was to reduce opposition to her and her caretaker government.

He also warned that reform could not be realised without support from the House of Representatives, the Senate and the members of the cabinet. 

Mr Abhisit made his comments in an interview with the pro-Democrat BlueSky TV Channel. 

“Just suppose the Feb 2 election happens and we have a new government and a reform council or whatever is set up.

"We must not forget that the decision-making power to push through reform proposals in six or seven areas that we have been talking about could not continue if the members of that cabinet or those in parliament disagree.

"We need to keep on watching this," Mr Abhisit said.  

He said the proposed reform council may be able to allow groups from all sides of the political divide to participate and propose recommendations on reform to society. Whether it would be capable of realising the reforms it would advise remained questionable, because the power to do so rested with the legislative and administrative branches of government. 

“Take for the example the proposal to make corruption offences unfettered by a statute of limitations. How do we do this? We must amend the law. The [new] government could issue a royal decree, or even the reform council version of an executive decree, authorising the amendment.

“The new corruption law would require amendments of the Criminal Code and anti-corruption law, which only the House of Representatives and Senate can do. This is just one concrete example.

“I understand that somehow there must be an attempt to move forward on reform procedures, but the question is how much can we expect today. The final answer remains with the legislative and administrative branches which currently lack credibility,” Mr Abhisit said.

Mr Abhisit also questioned whether the new government would again try to push through its controversial bills and policies, such as those seeking 350 billion baht in loans for the flood project, 2.2 trillion baht for transport infrastructure development and the extension of the rice pledging scheme.

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