Five Crucial Steps for Ending Crisis
By The Nation
During an emergency session of Parliament on Sunday, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej could have made history if he had chosen to step down or dissolve Parliament after the 12-hour debate. Instead, he ended up as an angry-looking leader who wanted to cling to power, come what may.
Less than 24 hours after the end of the debate, pro-government elements, armed with sticks and clubs, broke through unarmed police barricades. They moved towards Government House, where People's Alliance for Democracy protesters have camped for the past week.
The violent clash killed one man and injured nearly 40 people.
The police almost turned a blind eye to the pro-government elements' move towards the Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge during the early hours where they confronted and clashed with anti-government protesters.
Samak used the confrontation as the raison d'etre to declare the state of emergency. The situation, violent as it might look, did not justify a state of emergency as we did not experience widespread riots or clashes beyond the normal control of police.
Under the executive order, all the emergency power to restore order will be transferred to Army Chief General Anupong Paochinda, but Anupong made it clear at Army headquarters that the Army would use only dialogue and negotiations to restore order without resorting to using force.
This looked like a snub to Samak, who would prefer the Army to use decisive measures to quash the protest at Government House.
At this dangerous moment, we have the following recommendations for all sides to consider in taking the necessary steps to end the political crisis.
First, the prime minister must revoke the state of emergency as quickly as possible.
The longer this stern measure is imposed, the more damage it will create to confidence in the Thai economy and in the country as a whole.
Second, Samak must step down or dissolve Parliament to take responsibility for the fatal clashes on Tuesday and to bring an end to the political crisis.
The Law Society of Thailand has issued a statement expressing doubt over the clash, which looked as if it was a plot written solely to lead to the declaration of the state of emergency.
At the same time, the nine leaders of the PAD must turn themselves in to police to face allegations of treason against the state. Then the protesters must disperse in peace.
Third, all the coalition partners must consider pulling the plug if Samak insists on hanging on in office.
Fourth, an impartial committee must investigate the violent incident to find out who was the mastermind behind the clash between pro-government forces and the PAD.
Fifth, ASTV, the cable-TV broadcasting mouthpiece of the protesters, and NBT, the mouthpiece of the Public Relations Department, must stop disseminating news and information that incites further confrontation in Thai society.
We believe these crucial steps would help restore peace and order to society as a whole, for now at least.