ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation
By WASAMON AUDJARINT
THE SUNDAY NATION
NO ONE SEEMS to know for sure when Thailand will hold its next election, not even the prime minister as he usually ducks that question from reporters.
But the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF), known to be pro-junta, have said that while they still support the Democrat Party leader, who has been critical of the junta, they would be open to considering “other options”.
Last week, eight key PDRF figures returned to the Democrat headquarters in Bangkok for “coffee talk” with party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Ongart Klampaiboon and some former MPs
It was for the first time in almost four years that the PDRF figures had showed up together at the party headquarters.
Neither the PDRF nor the Democrats revealed details of the confabulations, except saying: “We reached some understanding to fight the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime and we held talks on reforms for the public good.”
The meeting was meant to lay to rest rumours that Suthep Thaugsuban, the PDRF president, would back the PDRF to oppose Abhisit once the junta lifted the ban on political activities. In 2013, key PDRF figures resigned their lower-house positions to create a mass-based movement that would occupy governmental places under its “Shut Down Bangkok” strategy to oppose the then-Pheu Thai government. However, they insisted that they remained Democrat Party members.
The post-coup government of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has banned political gatherings of more than four persons. The PDRF is lying quiet, focusing on managing the Bhavana Bodhigun Vocational College, a Buddhism-centred vocational school presided over by Suthep in Surat Thani province.
The school, which prohibits students from possessing mobile phones and wearing jewellery, is what the PDRF are proud of for bringing about “educational reform”.
During separate interviews with The Nation, several PDRF figures present on the day insisted that reforms would remain their top political agenda and the election, including the possibility of when to have it, “can be talked about later”.
In the same vein, the Democrats said they would have to respect the party’s consensus, which included supporting Abhisit for PM, adding: “It’s too far off for us to be able to give a clearcut answer for now. Besides, this charter has a distinctive way of selecting the PM.”
Thaworn Senniam, one of four PDRF vice presidents, explained that the selection of PM stipulated in the new charter has two options. If the 500 elected MPs could not settle on a PM candidate, the 250 junta-appointed senators would be empowered to step in, nominate outsider names, and join in casting votes.
“I will initially support Abhisit,” Thaworn said. “But if it is the case [of MPs unable to settle for a PM] happens, we’d have to rethink.”
The same thought was echoed by another vice president, Issara Somchai, who said: “I would follow the party’s approach, by supporting Abhisit as leader and consequently PM – if we win a parliamentary majority. If not, there would be a need to reconsider.”
“The junta government has been here for more than three years but he remains popular,” said another PDRF vice president, Witthaya Kaewparadai, who in 2015 was appointed by the junta to sit in the National Reform Steering Assembly.
As a so-called reformer of the military-installed government, Witthaya said a poll could be held at some “suitable time” as many reforms had yet to be sufficiently realised.
“The PDRF agenda has always been that there needs to be reform before election, especially to battle corruption,” he said. “Should we let another election happen with massive vote-buying like in the past?”
PDRF board member Puttipong Punnakan also said that while he would back Abhisit for leader, the election was still a long way off. “For decisions about the election, we would have to have meetings so a consensus can emerge,” Puttipong said. “But as of now, we can’t even hold an official party meeting. It might be too soon to talk about it now.”