Mon, 09 Oct 2000

Thai politics

There is a new maturity creeping into Thai politics. The political parties are presenting the voting public with policies. This a welcome development, provided of course that the parties are making promises that can be kept without causing the country more harm than good.

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai has indicated that he might dissolve the House of Representatives after its term expires on Oct. 21, and it is expected that a general election could be held around the third weekend of December. This election is shaping up to be different from previous polls; the parties are trying to win the hearts of the electorate with carefully crafted policy platforms, particularly on economic issues.

Policies took a back seat in the past; the parties were only interested in discrediting their rivals and undermining their strengths. When policies were put forward, it was usually done half-heartedly and most were just carbon copies of national economic and social development plans.

It is a good thing, good for the continuing efforts at political reform, that political parties have begun telling voters what they have in mind should they be elected to government. This is so much better than just slinging mud at their opponents. But it will hurt the country, in particular our vulnerable economy, if the policies mislead the public and distort certain systems and undermine fiscal and monetary discipline.

Political parties must refrain from presenting impractical policies in the sole attempt to get as many of their members as possible into parliament, exposing the national economy to danger in the process. And voters should use their heads and not be lulled by illusions conjured up by the politicians.

-- The Bangkok Post