IPPS in last year
IPPS in 2007

Democracy was gradually restored in Thailand during 2007 after having been disrupted by the military on 19th September 2006. These are the steps along the road to democracy:
  • An Interim Constitution was adopted;
  • The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) functioned as the legislature from late 2006;
  • The 100-member Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) was appointed;
  • The Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) and Sub-committees were appointed;
  • The Constitutional drafting process was completed;
  • The first ever referendum was held on 19th August; and
  • An election held on 23rd December.


The Interim Constitution encouraged full public participation in the Constitutional drafting process, IPPS, therefore, focused its program to serve this objective. A total of 27 IPPS activities can be categorized as

10 public policy studies,
9 civic educations,
3 research projects and
5 other media and publications.

These are shown chronologically below, followed by a summary of each:



A SUMMARY OF IPPS ACTIVITIES IN 2007


No. 1

Should the National Police be reformed?

The public seminar was held on 10th January 2007 at the Sanya Thammasak Auditorium, Thammasat University, Bangkok. The issue came to public notice when Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont initiated the process to make the National Police Agency (NPA) independent. A 25-member panel, chaired by retired Pol. Gen. Wasit Dejkunchorn, was appointed to study NPA reform. The issue attracted interest amongst the general public as well as police officers and academics because public confidence in police had declined during the Thaksin administration. Studies about law enforcement in other countries had been done, so this seminar aimed to stimulate the public about police reform as well as to provide a public forum to make suggestions to the Panel.

Chairman of the Police Restructuring Panel, Pol. Gen. Wasit presided and gave a keynote speech. Two officers from the Japanese Embassy also shared their experience about Japanese police restructuring in 1952.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

57.50% very good
40.00% good


No.2

University Reform

The second event was held on 8th January, at Silpakorn University, Petchburi Campus. Silpakorn is one of several universities undergoing autonomy process under the Autonomous University legislation program, started in late 1999 following Thailands economic crisis and IMF loan requirement. It was a public expenditure reduction program to encourage state agencies, including universities, towards self-sufficiency and self-administration. The process has been quietly ongoing, e.g. every vacant post after 2000 had been replaced with university employee contracts. In 2006, several university autonomous bills were approved by the Cabinet and sent to the NLA. The issue became heated after the first protest at Chulalongkorn University campus in early December 2006, followed by a series of protests in other campuses, including Silpakorn.

Silpakorn University- Petchburi campus was chosen as the venue of this seminar because the campus is newer than Bangkok or Nakorn Pathom campuses. Moreover, Petchburi has dual-administration system; some faculties are autonomous, others state-run. The seminar aimed to generate understanding about the concept of autonomous university and to suggest solutions for this public policy. One of the speakers, Dr. Uthai Dulkasem, is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Walailak University; one of six state universities either established autonomously or became autonomous.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

59.76 % very good
40.24 % good


No.3

Decentralization of the Local Community: a Proposal for Drafting the Constitution

The third event of 2007 was held at the Royal River Hotel in Bangkok on 16th February during the early part of the Constitutional drafting process. The seminar provided a forum for local authority representatives to exchange views on decentralization. Their comments and recommendations were especially valuable since they were the ones most directly involved in local authority administration.

After the opening address by Dr. Surapol Nithikraipot, Rector of Thammasat University and keynote speeches, the audience was divided into 4 workshop groups, each led by an academic versed in local administration. Results were then presented to the general assembly in the late afternoon and formal conclusions submitted to the Constitutional Drafting Sub-committee.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

71.60 % very good
27.16 % good


No. 4

Women and the Strengthening of Society in the Islamic Way

The seminar workshop continued a series organized by IPPS in July 2006 when 38 women from the four Southern provinces affected by violence: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkla, came to exchange views. This occasion was organized according to their suggestions i.e. the same group with their families so that they can consider how women can contribute to society in the Islamic way.

The event was held 6-9th March at the Thamarin Thana Hotel, Trang Province. Trang is not suffering from violent incidents, although it is also in southern Thailand and has similar and different socio-cultural characteristics from the three southern-most provinces. So, it was the best place to show how locals can preserve their Muslim identities while living in the globalization age. The 4-day program was divided into lectures, a field trip, a workshop and a cultural event. A one-day field trip was made to Libong Island- 30 minutes by boat- renowned for a strong-female-network Muslim society. After the visit, the women of Libong Island were invited to attend the workshop and cultural night. Ties between Muslim women of different geographical backgrounds were made as they learned from each others views and experiences.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

82.86 % very satisfied
14.29 % satisfied


No. 5, 7and 8

A Students Political Proposal to the Drafting Charter

The same three events were held in the Northeast, South and North during the height of the Constitutional drafting process on 16th, 23rd March and 5th April respectively. In each region, university students from different institutions were stimulated by the ability to participate in the Constitutional drafting process. After a morning lecture and an exchange-of-views session, students workshops were held in the afternoon on four topics:
  • Rights and freedom;
  • Public participation in monitoring the exercise of state power;
  • Political institutions and inter-institutional relationships; and
  • Decentralization.


Conclusions and comments were noted and formally submitted to the Constitution Drafting Sub-committee.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

64.40% very good
31.41% good
4.19 % moderate


No. 6

Party-list MPs: should Proportional Representation be Retained?

In response to one of the hottest topics of the Constitutional drafting process: the party-list MPs, IPPS organized a seminar at the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, Bangkok, on 20th March 2007. The objectives were to keep a public awareness on the Constitutional drafting process and to provide a public forum for academics and the public to share views. A decision had been made two weeks earlier, on 7th March, by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly and Sub-committee to defer the party-list issue for more feedback. They had agreed that there should be a total of 400 constituency MPs, but had not agreed as to whether there should be party-lists MPs as well, nor the method of their election.

Dr. Boonsri Meewong-Ukot from the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University explained the German experience in The Basis of Proportional Representative: Experiences from Germany followed by Party-List MP: Lessons from Thailand by Prof. Dr. Likhit Dhiravegin, Former Party-List MP, Thai Rak Thai Party who promoted advantages of party-lists. Thailand has had a bad experience with money politics, partly because of party-list MPs. They are mostly successful businesspeople making financial contributions to get their names to the top of the lists. Nevertheless, the assembly agreed that the party-list system should be retained since it provides more benefits than drawbacks and allows intellectuals to advocate themselves to focally serve in the legislative body.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

80% very good
20% good


No. 9

Human Rights and Educational Development

The second civic education program was held on 25th May at Wat Don Toom School, Ban Pong District, Ratchaburi Province. It aimed to inform State and educational personnel about human rights. Since the establishment of the Human Rights Commission in 2001, pursuant to the 1997 Charter, human rights concepts and practices are still misunderstood, misinterpreted and misapplied at both individual and social levels. The event was designed to provide knowledge and understanding of the topic, the latter through a workshop.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

14.03 % very good
75.44 % good
10.53 % moderate


No. 10

Local Community Organization Council Bill: A Key Mechanism for Peoples Participation.

Another event on the then current hot issue was held on 28th June at Faculty of Social Science, Thammasat University. This was in response to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security draft bill on Local Community Organization Council, re-submitted to the Cabinet on 5th June. The bill was opposed by Interior Ministry when first proposed on grounds that it would spark conflict between the people and their local authority. This was because the Local Community Organization Councils (LCOC) would have overlapping powers with existing administrative bodies: Tambon, Municipal and Provincial in planning, revoking and revising local development plan and the establishment of LCOC nationwide would be a financial burden. After revision, the bill authorized LCOC only to boost peoples participation and monitor the local authority agencies performance. However, representatives from four local administration organizations:
  • Provincial Administration Organization Council,
  • National Municipal League of Thailand,
  • Tambon Administration Organization of Thailand and
  • Village and Tambon Headmens Association, submitted a letter objecting to the bill on grounds that it would lead to conflict and it was redundant because of existing local administrative bodies.


Eight speakers including IPPSs co-director, Tippaporn Tantisunthorn, were invited to share their views. A village head from Nong Klang Dong in Prechuab Kirikhan Province, Chokchai Limprasert, commented that if performance of the existing local bodies were unsatisfactory, they should be forced to improve it and not to create a new agency. His comments were supported by academics in that local administration does not need outside intervention. Local communities should find their own solution based on their own culture and local wisdom. Innovation should gradually develop by trial-and-error as the community learns to solve internal problems and conflicts. Each community should learn by themselves and when they need help, they can seek it from government agencies. Further, local administrative laws should be re-examined and revised and so that they can support local administration more effectively.

It was concluded that local administration should be considered as a holistic mean to promote good governance in society. Whether or not the draft bill passes NLA is not as important as to know how to solve power sharing problems long embedded in society and the focus should be on the mechanism to drive communities to achieve that goal.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

73.08 % very good
26.92 % good


No. 11

New Aspect for Telecommunication: New Reform for the Country

This event was held on 28th June at Kamolthip Room, Siam City Hotel, Bangkok, to promote awareness of the necessity for telecommunication reform. Though several telecommunications aspects: technology, legislation, tax, politics, bureaucracy were examined, the most important is the appropriate public policy over a potentially enormous market that will allow fair competition and guard national interests. Since privatization of state-own TOT in 2001, Thai society has not been able to keep up with technological changes. Laws, political systems, civil servants cannot keep up. Problems cannot be solved only by legislation but by education and awareness of the necessity for consumers monitoring and participation. The State should be responsible for the legal framework and for the supervision of concerned agencies in order to promote economic stability as well as innovation.

The public needs to understand new aspects of the telecommunications industry particularly the roles of related agencies, so the new aspect of telecommunication is to focus on governing rules and regulations.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

52.63 % very good
40.35 % good
7.02% moderate


No. 12

The Official Information Act: A Transparency Indicator of the State Administrative Body

On 27th July, a civic education program was held in Tambon Na Muang Administration Organization, Udon Thani Province. The purpose was to inform local people about the importance of the Official Information Act 1997. It could provide resolutions to disputes amongst farming villagers and their local authorities over how to acquire land title deeds.

The problem involves several state agencies:
  • The Land Department directly responsible for granting land title deed,
  • The Office for the Decentralization of the Local Government Organization Committee, who supervises the local government administration organization, and
  • The Official Information Board responsible for the Official Information Act.


Speakers from these agencies were invited to acknowledge to the audience their rights of access to official information under the Official Information Act 1997, the most important tool to help people solve problems with state agencies. All state agencies, particularly those making public policy, plans, programs, budgets or regulations that affect the public, are obliged to disclose these information upon request. The information must be either publicly posted or revealed for inspection at any time. If the officers do not respond within a considerable time, the requester can submit the application to the Official Information Committee to speed up the process.

The Act, despite 10 years since coming into force, is still unknown or unable to be properly used by many central and local state officials. Since state officers are unaware of the law, the public needs to take the initiative.

By the end of the event, the audience understood that they can now make a request to see information concerning the grant of land title deed in the Tambon Authority Organization office. Further, they can forward their request directly to the Official Information Board if the request is not promptly responded to or is denied.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

75 % very good
25 % good


No. 13

Rights and Liberties in the 2007 Constitution

Upon request, another civic education program was held on 9th August at the Golden City Hotel, Muang District, Ratchburi Province, to stimulate people in the educational sector to monitor rights and liberties in the 2007 Constitution. The event provided lecture and workshop similar to the seminar held on 25th May, but opened to a wider audience of mostly state officers. The Provincial Governor gave the opening address.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

26.32 % very good
65.79 % good
7.89% moderate


No. 14

Thai Students and A Democracy Movement

The brainstorming seminar on 8-9th September was held at the B.P. Samila Beach Hotel, Songkla Province. This is the same program as the one held on 23rd March, but this time only with university students from the South. This was the first occasion since 23rd March that participants had an opportunity to share their views with students from other colleges. They became core participants who coordinated the event with more and wider-ranging groups who were new to the 2-day program. The event was designed to answer one of the biggest problems of Thai politics- why is democratic government always interrupted in Thailands 75-year history of democracy?

Students from eight southern universities shared their views on the meaning of democratic principles and intent. The speakers were Chamnong Raekpinit, lecturer in sociology from Thaksin University and Chaiwat Surawichai, a former student activist. The students learned that a democratic society starts when more than one person, living together, decided on the utilization of limited resources. If conflicts occur they must compromise and learn to use these resources efficiently in order to live together peacefully.

A university, like any society, also has limited resources and is unable to participate in all types of activities. If students understand the concept of a democratic society they will be able to play their part correctly any time, any where regardless of their origin, ethnicity, culture or political environment.

In the afternoon, the students were divided into six groups, each comprised of those from different universities and different backgrounds. They shared their experiences and views on Thai democratic society through the evening and came up with conclusions the next morning.

The seminar ended with Chaiwat asking the audience to pay more attention to womens role in society as Thai women were inclined to be modest and introvert. Tippaporn concluded that there were several means to democracy and one is through religion. In the two days, IPPS was able to demonstrate that democratic society also means public-minded people with moral courage and righteousness, speaking out their views.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

65.79 % very good
31.58 % good
2.63 % moderate


No. 15

Drafting The Act of the National Human Rights Commission

The brainstorming seminar was held on 8th October at the Beijing Room, Asia Hotel, Bangkok, to provide a forum for intellectuals, human rights officers and activists to share views on the draft Bill on the Human Rights Commission. An amendment of the 1999 Act was needed since the 2007 Constitution allows the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to file petitions to the Constitution, Administrative and Justice Courts.

Five main topics to be reviewed and discussed were:
  1. Roles, powers and functions of the NHRC.
  2. The process of petitions to the three Courts.
  3. Who is to become the petitioner?
  4. The independence of the Commission with regard to budget and administration.
  5. The officers status.


Comments and suggestions were noted for submission to the Constitutional Drafting panel.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

69.56 % very good
30.44 % good

No. 16

Road to Democracy

To commemorate a popular uprising for democracy, IPPS held a Road to Democracy event at Thammasat University and Rajadamnern Avenue, Bangkok on 24th October. A group of students from Songkla Nakarin University, Trang Province were on a study tour in Bangkok; they were much interested and participated in this event. The one-day activity provided a history of democracy from the beginning on 24th June 1932 to the present. The main focus, however, was on three popular uprisings B.E 2516, 2519 and 2535 when university students played important roles. The event did not only show a historical perspective but it managed to stimulate awareness of a democratic society amongst this group of students from the southern provinces of Thailand.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

52.94 % very good
47.06 % good


No.17

Political Party Platform for the General Election

As the 23rd December Election Day was approaching, people wanted to hear about policies of leading political parties while the parties, in turn, needed a fair forum to present their policies. IPPS, therefore, held a public affairs forum on 22nd November, at the Petch Pailin Room, Emerald Hotel, Bangkok.

Seven leading parties: Democrat, Pue Pandin, Ruemjai Thai Chartpatana, Palang Prachachon, Chart Thai, Pracharaj and Matchima Tipatai sent their deputy leaders or secretaries to meet the media. Each party was given equal time to present their most important policies and the media and audience had a good opportunity to ask questions.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

33.33 % very good
66.67 % good


No. 18

Political Party Platform for the General Election

A public affairs event was repeated in Ubon Ratchathani Province, to provide a forum for political parties and local media in six provinces: Burirum, Surin, Srisaket, Yasothorn, Roi-Et and Ubon Ratchani, to meet and discuss parties public policies. Four parties who were running in those provinces: Palang Prachachon, Chart Thai, Pracharaj and Prachamati sent their candidates to meet the press, revealed their policies, and answered questions from the media and public.

Feedback evaluation from the audience:

57.14 % very good
25% very satisfied with speakers
35.72% very satisfied with exchange of opinions

It was also recommended that similar events should be held in every province and district nationwide.


No. 19

Election Polling and Thai Politics

IPPSs last activity in 2007 was held at the Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok on 11th December. Polling was one of the hottest issues as the General Election drew near. Since 2006, a law lecturer, Narongdej Sarukosit, had conducted a research on legal aspects of conducting and disseminating results of an election poll. The research was temporarily suspended after the 19th September 2006 coup, but resumed during the drafting of the 2007 Constitution followed by the Election Act. His research is not only academic but applicable to the public-at-large as it showed that publication of election polls has both positive and negative effects on voters. He briefly presented his research in Legal Measures for Controlling the Conduct and Dissemination of an Election Poll. Five distinguished speakers: a legal advisor to the Election Commission, a journalist, an academic and two pollsters: ABAC and Suan Dusit, spoke on the election poll and Thai politics.

61.77% very appreciative
50% % speakers conveyed their messages very well, and
32.35% very good opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences.
 


Print Version