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More than 7,000 candidates apply for Reform Council

More than 7,000 people from all walks of life had applied for positions on the National Reform Council as the deadline for applications approached last week. The 250-member Council will draft ambitious and wide-ranging measures to reform 11 fields important for Thailand’s future, including politics, administrations, the economy, media, energy, public health and the environment and education.
 
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha urged the 11 screening committees tasked with selecting the National Reform Council (NRC) members to include representatives from all groups in society, including those who had taken part in partisan political conflicts. He dismissed rumors that Council members had been pre-chosen.
 
“NRC members must come from all sides and groups. There are few restrictions [on qualifications] because we want to make sure all groups are represented, including those involved in the conflict so they cannot say they were not part of the process,’’ the Prime Minister said during a speech.
 
The screening committees will select 550 candidates, and provincial committees will choose five candidates from each province. The National Council for Peace and Order will then approve 173 candidates nominated by the 11 committees and 77 from the provincial committees for a final total of 250 NRC members.
 
Of the 11 fields that the NRC will work on, education reform was the area that drew the most candidates with 401, and social reform came in second with 344. Mass media had the lowest number with 105.
 
Analysts praised the diversity of candidates, with many coming from nongovernmental organizations, nonprofit groups, professional groups and academia. Some questioned, however, whether political reforms would be accepted because the two major political parties, Pheu Thai and the Democrat Party, decided not to nominate any of their members as candidates. One Democrat, Alongkorn Polabutr, went against his party’s wishes and applied.
 
Furthermore, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, a mass organization aligned with Pheu Thai and known more widely as the Red Shirts, also boycotted the nominations. Their anti-Pheu Thai counterparts, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), however, did nominate several of its members to the NRC.
 
Among the more well known nominees were talk show host Chirmsak Pinthong and poet Naowarat Pongpaiboon, who appeared on the PDRC stage. They were nominated by non-profit organizations for academic reform. Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, the executive vice-president of Boon Rawd Brewery, brewers of Singha beer, was nominated to handle economic reform. His daughter is a PDRC co-leader. Chief Ombudsman Panit Nitithanprapas was nominated for reform in central administration.
 
Privy Council President and former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda was nominated for reforming law and justice by the Association of Songkhla Residents. It is not known, however, if Prem, who is in his 90s now and rarely appears in public, wishes to serve.
 
For the original article, please go to the Royal Embassy Website

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