Former Thai PM Anand blames Section 272 of the Charter for political conflict
Thailand’s former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun has blamed Section 272 of the Constitution, which enables senators to vote in the election of the Prime Minister, as the source of today’s political conflict.
He said that the clause must be deleted from any new Constitution, adding that lèse majesté, or Section 112 of the country’s Criminal Code, should be decriminalized, subjecting offenders to civil liability only with fines commensurate with the act committed.
Mr. Anand was sharing his views during a panel discussion last night on the topic of “From Analogue Age to Digital Age: How Can We Narrow the Communication Gap with Sincerity and Grace”, jointly hosted by COFAC, the National Press Council, the Change Fusion Institute and the Centre for the Study of Peace and Conflicts of Chulalongkorn University.
Breaking his silence on the current political conflict, Mr. Anand said that, unlike people who view it as a crisis, he thinks it is not unusual, saying that Thailand has been down this path countless times during the past 88 years of democratic governance.
The current conflict, he said, is similar to those in the past, which ended with a military coup, followed by the promulgation of a new Constitution, a general election and a new government, creating a vicious cycle.
Mr. Anand said that this political pattern amounts to a short-term or superficial envisioning of the country’s problems, hence, the lack of understanding of the causes. Although Thailand wants to see peace and order, he said that it cannot be imposed from the above or below “but it must be peace which all sides can discuss and upon which they can agree.”
According to Mr. Anand, we are seeing a conflict between generations. There is a generation that depends on various Internet platforms for communication, which leads to misunderstanding, unlike face-to-face dialogue. Therefore, there is a need to be open-minded and receptive to differing views, he said.
Regarding a new Constitution, which is in the process of amendment, the former Prime Minister suggested that it should not go into too much detail, but should be concise and cover only the main principles, adding that the ability of senators to elect the Prime Minister should expunged.
On the protesters’ demand for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to step down, Mr. Anand said he does not know whether his resignation would ease the conflict, adding that the Prime Minister has the right to go or stay “but he must accept that there are calls for his resignation, but whether he has heard them or been listening I don’t know.”
Mr. Anand also warned that using laws and regulations to deal with young people will not solve anything “because we have been wrong for the past seven years. You may disagree. I don’t agree with everything, but try to understand. I try to understand the position of the Prime Minister and the Government. If there is misunderstanding, they must talk,” adding that he will not get involved with either side.
“The Prime Minister asked what he did wrong. It is about talking in different languages. The kids speak in a digital age language, while the Government uses an analogue version. The battle grounds are different. The kids are in one and the Government in another, never meeting each other and talking on different issues. People say you cannot have peace without justice, and you cannot have justice if you are not sincere with each other,” said Mr. Anand.