NRSA sets 20-month reform goal

NRSA sets 20-month reform goal

Reconciliation panel to mull amnesty plan

Joining hands (from left), NRSA leaders Democrat ex-member of parliament Alongkorn Ponlaboot, former
Joining hands (from left), NRSA leaders Democrat ex-member of parliament Alongkorn Ponlaboot, former "Black May" cabinet minister under the 1992 dictatorship Tinnapan Nakata, 81, and budget expert Walairat Siarun want 20 months to conclude national reform and reconciliation. (Photo from NSRA Facebook page)

The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) has unveiled a new "1-1-18" timeframe for its work on reform and is set to establish a committee to foster reconciliation.

NRSA deputy chairman Alongkorn Ponlaboot said that starting immediately on Monday, the NRSA will spend a month drawing up regulations governing its meetings, and will also set up 11 committees to pursue reform initiated by the now-defunct National Reform Council (NRC).

The next month would be spent prioritising 37 reform proposals of the now-defunct NRC.

The last 18 months will be used to finalise action plans for reform, which will then be presented for cabinet consideration, Mr Alongkorn said.

The NRSA has replaced the NRC, which was dissolved after it voted to reject the previous draft charter on Sept 6.

The NRSA's 1-1-18 timeframe fits in with the government's "6-4-6-4" roadmap, which outlines the number of months Thailand needs to work toward elections.

After six months of charter drafting, four months are needed to prepare a public referendum, another six months to draft the new constitution's organic laws and the last four months for election preparations.

Mr Alongkorn said the 200-member steering assembly will meet on Tuesday to gather members' opinions on ways to bring about national reconciliation.

The views will be forwarded to a joint meeting on Oct 28 of the "five rivers of power" -- the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), and the NRSA.

Mr Alongkorn said NRSA chairman Thinnaphan Nakhata and two of his deputies agreed it was necessary to set up a committee to foster reconciliation, which would be based on a report prepared by a NRC panel chaired by Anek Laothammatat.

The report studied approaches to promoting unity and covered all aspects of seeking reconciliation, including providing compensation to affected parties, an amnesty and a truth-seeking process.

Mr Alongkorn admitted the NRSA's members, who come from opposing political parties and groups, may find it hard to accommodate their different views.

However, he was confident they will work well together as they share the same goal of achieving reconciliation.

The chairman wants the NRSA to be a symbol of unity, and the starting point of the process itself.

He insisted there would be not quotas reserved for the posts of chairmen and deputy chairmen of NRSA committees handling the reform proposals by the NRC.

A screening committee will be set up to select appropriate people for the posts, Mr Alongkorn said.

Gen Ekkachai Srivilas, director of the King Prajadhipok's Institute's Office of Peace and Governance, agreed with the NRSA proposal to set up the reconciliation committee.

He said the report included diverse views from all stakeholders and should serve as a model to achieve reconciliation.

Gen Ekkachai added the proposed reconciliation committee should comprise members from all walks of life, and the committee should not be included in the new constitution.

Former Democrat Party MP Atthawit Suwanphakdi called on the NRSA on Sunday to clarify how it planned to achieve reconciliation.

He also warned the steering assembly must not pursue national unity through granting an amnesty, particularly to those convicted in corruption cases.

Muan Maha Prachachon for Reforms Foundation secretary Akanat Promphan said Sunday the NRSA's primary role was to complete reform successfully.

It should avoid mixing reform with reconciliation, which would affect the reform process and cause public confusion.

The NRSA should let the NCPO handle reconciliation issues instead, Mr Akanat said.

Also on Sunday, Suriyasai Katasila, deputy dean of Rangsit University's Social Innovation College, said the joint meeting of the ''five rivers'' must prioritise efforts to achieve reform.

Some reform tasks were urgent and could be implemented swiftly through cabinet resolutions, while others must await legislation to support them, he said.

''Right now, we have only seen the government's 6-4-6-4 formula or the NRSA's latest 1-1-18 one, which are only timeframes. If details on reforms are not yet firmed up or prioritised, reforms cannot get off the ground," Mr Suriyasai said.

''In the end, we'll get only a constitution. The next government will take up reforms and we cannot expect much from it."

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