A group of Thai social activists and academics has launched an open letter about Abhisit’s reconciliation plan, and the role of members of civil society within the reconciliation process.

Opposing the atrocious Thailand Reform Plan

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejachiva has launched a “reconciliation plan” part of which is the reform of Thailand. Mister Anand Punyarachun and Mister Prawes Wasee accepted to be chairman of the Reform Steering Committee and chairman of the Committee on Reform Assembly respectively. The two chairmen have invited people to be on the committees and will hold forums to gather suggestions from local communities and organizations (For details, visit: http://www.thaireform.in.th/news-national-strategy/1352–2-.html).

As part of social movements including current and veteran NGO workers, graduate students, and engaged academics, we are gravely concerned and worried about the ways in which social movements position themselves towards Thailand Reform Plan. We would like to express our concerns towards our friends and brothers in social movements as follows:

1) Thailand Reform Plan is a ploy the government uses to divert public attention from the demand for fact finding and responsibility for the deaths, disappearances, and injuries from its “space consolidation” as well as from its violent and human rights abusing measures. The government at the same time hunts down and crushes the Red Shirts and performs several psychological operations. As such, Thailand Reform Plan is aimed to buy time for the government not to return power to the people via electoral process.

2) To participate in Thailand Reform Plan is therefore to justify the government in denying its responsibility for the use of violence and the unjust use of state power. In addition, to ignore the deaths and injuries, the use of violence, and the unjust judicial procedures is atrocity and in conflict with the aims of social movements which place emphasis on the building of a just society.

3) The participation in Thailand Reform Plan of some groups of people in the name of “people’s sector” and “social sector” is distortion. It misled the society that most of those in “people’s sector” agree with Thailand Reform Plan despite the fact that there are many in social movements in the country who criticize and categorically reject the plan as they deem it having illegitimate origin and its contents not answering a real question which lies beneath the current conflict in Thai society.

4) It is a pleasure that many NGOs and people’s organizations refuse to participate in Thailand Reform Plan. However, we find it necessary for those in social movements to strongly criticize a hidden agenda and the illegitimacy of the reform plan as the real reform cannot take place under the silent coup and the authoritarian regime in part manifest in the promulgation of the Emergency Decree.

5) Social movements need to seriously check and review their ideologies and practices so as to catch up with changes in Thai society and to comprehend the connectedness between problems and wants of the lower mass and structural politico-economic inequality. In particular, given the source of budgets highly associated with the authoritarian regime some organizations receive, they need to revise whether and how this contradicts fundamental democratic principles. These revisions will lead to a proper stance of social movements towards the reform plan.

We believe that friends and brothers who play crucial roles in shaping the direction of social movements in the country will listen to our concerns. We also believe that social movements in Thai society are still hopeful, on the same pace with changes, beneficial to the poor mass, and a crucial mechanism in bringing true democracy to Thai society.

A copy of the letter with the current list of signatories is available here.