Thai govt committed to reforms ahead of election

Since Thailand's revised Constitution was approved in a referendum on Aug 7, the government has been preparing for a general election, to be held in the later part of next year ("The road back to Thai polls"; Aug 15).

Many areas are in need of reform before the general election.

Outdated laws need to be fixed to better protect all citizens of Thailand. Measures to stamp out the influence of money in politics must be firmly established.

It is also essential that the responsible use of free speech is in place, and that violent acts, and the encouragement of such acts, are not tolerated.

With regard to legislative reform, 190 new laws have been put into effect since the government came into office in 2014.

By and large, these laws are to better protect human rights, and to be in line with international obligations and standards regarding human trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering.

However, more will still need to be accomplished over the next 12 months.

Anti-corruption is another cornerstone of Thailand's national reform.

Corruption cannot be tolerated. To help stamp it out, the government has moved to streamline the work between various agencies through the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Committee.

In addition, a new court specifically designed to handle corruption cases will also speed up a process that was often lengthy and where, in some situations, statutes of limitation had expired before those charged had even stepped into a courtroom.

An additional major obstacle is the continuation of reconciliation. As it stands, there is a vast social and economic gap that has created a chasm flanked by colour-coded politics.

The government has been encouraging each side to forgo pursuing personal gains and to focus on the country and its people instead.

As much as the people of Thailand wish changes could take place overnight, they have to accept that the road to democracy is not always swift and smooth.

While their path might not be the one many would have chosen, the people of Thailand would still welcome suggestions and support, as they complete their journey towards giving Thailand a strong and functional democracy that fairly represents the best interests of the people and the country, for generations to come.

Sek Wannamethee

Director-General

Department of Information

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Thai govt committed to reforms ahead of election'. Print Edition | Subscribe