Korn Dabbaransi, former Thai Minister of Science and Technology and longtime Thai politician, is interviewed by Swarup Roy, founder and CEO of Asean Affairs, and speaks out on the current state of Thai politics and the prospects for the next general election in the country.
Roy: When will the next general election in Thailand be held?
Now, any attempt, any kind of rumor or political manipulation to make the election come sooner, I can say that I am not convinced of any attempt to make the election come before that date. I am not convinced that it will done for the benefit of the nation. I am not convinced.
Why would you want to have an election in June, July or August? I ask why? As a veteran politician, I am not convinced yet. There is no reason to have an election before February 2012. I have not been entertained with a good rationality for that so far.
Roy: The logic is, the argument is that Thailand is politically unstable, the red shirts, the yellow shirts and they feel that this is the answer to the problem.
Korn: As a veteran politician, I disagree. The country needs stabilization. The government now is very stable, so why change that. Secondly, the yellow shirts, the reds, if you observe, they have already started their reconciliation, without help from the government.
Korn: The reds and yellows have been shaking hands and they even shared the same stage a few days ago. As long as the government
does not intervene, the reconciliation will be more tangible.
Roy: You believe that they should be left alone to work out things for themselves, rather than the government…Korn: That is the best way, because the yellows and reds would not want to be known that they are being manipulated. They want to stand on their own two feet, to decide their own direction and their own policies. And I believe that the government has done so much that they have brought the reds and yellows to reconcile between themselves.
I have to add one thing, because this is the first time that the reds and the yellows have been able to start reconciliation, sharing a common platform: they don’t like the government. Both of them are unhappy with the government, and this has brought them together. This is an irony.
They ask each other, “Do you like this government?” and the other replies, “No”. So they shake hands and say “Let’s join forces.”
Korn: There are two elements, domestic and foreign. Domestically,
I think that people from all walks of life: city or rural, do not think their problems have been properly addressed. I think the government has tried very hard to appease them, to make them feel that they have been looked after, but along the way there has also been a high level of corruption cases. I know the prime minister
is trying so hard to fight against corruption, but yet, not enough. Corruption is the biggest domestic problem.
Roy: Foreign-wise, internationally?
Korn: Internationally: Cambodia, Myanmar and China. I do not think we have enjoyed the best of friendships. We could have done it in a more constructive manner with our friends.
Roy: Including China?
Korn: Including China. Because as the president of the Thai-Chinese Friendship Association I think a more positive program could have been done between Thailand and China.
Roy: I was under the impression that China and Thailand have a very extensive and good relationship but as you have pointed out from what angles do you see is the relationship because China is engaging across the region not only Thailand.
Korn: China and Thailand must look eye to eye on issue on the Mekong River issue.........