Senators, generals, academics dominate political reconciliation committee lineup

Proposed by the parliament speaker, Chuan Leekpai, the reconciliation committee, aimed to find a way out of political turmoil, is packed with senators, academics, military officers and government coalition MPs. No opposition MPs or pro-democracy protesters are included.

Chuan Leekpai

According to Matichon, the committee consists of 11 members whose names list were published on 11 January:

  1. Gen Chaicharn Changmongkol, Deputy Minister of Defence
  2. Assoc Prof Viroj Limkaisang, President of Rajamangala University of Technology Isan
  3. Assoc Prof Nirut Thuengnak, President of Rajabhat Mahasarakham University
  4. Dr Somsak Rungroong, President of Southeast Bangkok College
  5. Prof Md Wanchai Wattanasap, former President of Khon Kaen University
  6. Prof Surichai Wun'gaeo, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University
  7. Dr Chaweerat Kasetsoontorn, Senator, former Deputy Minister of Culture
  8. Wallop Tangkananurak, Senator
  9. Sora-at Klinpratoom, Bhumjaithai party list MP
  10. Nirote Sunthornleka, Palang Pracharat MP for Nakhon Sawan
  11. Thoedpong Chaiyanan, Democrat party list MP

Kunnavuti Tuntrakul, Deputy Secretary General of Parliament, as secretary to the committee, stated that the first meeting will be held on 18 January at 13.30. The committee will address recruiting 4 more experts in reconciliation to join the committee. The media will be allowed to observe the meeting.

No opposition coalition MP is on the list.

The composition of the reconciliation committee was proposed by Chuan in order to have all sides engage in dialogue to find a solution to the political tension in 2020 when pro-democracy protesters’ repeated demands for political and monarchy reform were met with a forceful and violence response from the security forces and anti-protester groups.

According to the Bangkok Post, the pro-democracy protesters declared in November 2020 that they will not accept or join the committee formed by the government, stating that the government led by Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha is a major obstacle in resolving the country’s political, economic and social problems.

Originally, 21 members were to consist of 2 government representatives, 2 government coalition MPs, 2 opposition MPs, 2 senators, 2 representatives of protesters who agree with the government, 2 representatives of protesters who disagree with the government, and 9 experts (3 from the Council of University Presidents of Thailand, 1 from the Council of Rajabhat Universities, 1 from the Council of Rajamangala Universities of Technology and 4 with expertise in reconciliation).

The protesters and some opposition MPs view that the committee structure is not designed to address the demands of the protesters as the number on the government side is overwhelming.

Previously, former prime ministers Anand Panyarachun, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh hinted they may be willing to join the committee. They have not yet done so.

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