Thaksin promises a gentler, kinder second term

Updated On: Mar 11, 2005

Bangkok- Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose first term had been marked by diplomatic spats withThailand’s neighbours and rising violence in the Muslim-majority deep south, has promised to change his tune.

Mr Thaksin, who officially begana historic second term in office on March 9, pledged to keep an open mind, listen to dissent, make up with the press, respect human rights, support non-governmental institutions and return power to the people by promoting participatory democracy.

He said he would exercise his absolute House majority wisely, and not abuse his power.

"I will not use that political security in a wrong way but will maximise it for the love and unity of Thais, to make them become one and to solve problems and eliminate obstacles,'' said the Premier,whoseThai Rak Thai party won by a landslide in last month’s general elections.

According to the Bangkok Post, Mr Thaksin’s pledges were uncharacteristic since he had been criticised during his first term in office for thinking and acting unilaterally.

Another newspaper, The Nation, commented: “The super-CEO would have us believe that if any of his policies turned out not to work, he would be willing to turn back. ‘Face-saving’, he seems to be trying to tell us, isn’t an issue with him.”

The Nationsaid Mr Thaksin should prove his sincerity by rescinding a highly controversial executive decree that would give him near absolute powers.

The decree would require that only one-third of the Cabinet to be present to form a quorum and would empower the Prime Ministerto convene meetings with only one minister to pass Cabinet resolutions in “emergency cases”.

Critics say the decree is aimed at paving the way for absolute rule.

“If he decides not to back off, the stage will be set for a confrontation between what is increasingly seen as one-man rule and those who are fighting desperately for some semblance of a civil society. And that’s the last thing this country needs at this critical juncture,” The Nation said.

* For the country’s sake, make this one political U-turn (The Nation, March 10)

* PM vows to change his tune (Bangkok Post, March 10)·