The National Reform Committee, chaired by former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, has set strategies to ensure social justice and economic fairness in order to reduce disparity in Thai society. It aims to introduce desirable changes in the next three years.
Since the establishment of the committee by the Government in late June this year, the committee has held several meetings and its work continues to make headway. It has divided the issue of justice into five dimensions in terms of economic and social aspects, land ownership and natural resources, opportunities, people’s rights, and bargaining power.
According to the committee, economic disparity is evident from inequitable income distribution and production factors. Since the marketing mechanism is unable to minimize economic disparity, the committee called for the greater role of the state in bringing about fair income distribution. In fact, the Government is implementing various measures to tackle this problem. It has also been suggested that the community economy be strengthened, so that the rural poor will become self-reliant. Statistics in 2007 showed that the income of 5.4 million Thais remained below the poverty line.
The committee sees conflicts concerning land ownership and natural resources that form part of major production factors. It called on the state to attach greater importance to “community rights” and public participation, so that farmers will gain easy access to land management and use, while local people are able to make their own decisions on local development.
Concerning opportunities, the committee cited access to educational and healthcare opportunities as important factors. It called for the promotion of a learning culture and the awareness of local wisdom. The education system should be more flexible and offer diverse alternatives in order to create a learning society and empower the community in education management. Although the universal health insurance provided by the Government has covered all groups of people now, the committee raised inequitable medical and public health resources as a major problem that needs to be rectified.
In order to bring about justice in terms of people’s rights, the National Reform Committee intends to protect the rights of each group of people from “dark influences” and the abuse of power. It stressed the need for Thai society to develop restorative justice, an alternative concept to mediate between conflicting parties and to find the best solution, focusing on social harmony and with as little damage as possible.
Regarding bargaining power, the committee is of the opinion that the creation of a negotiation process for equilibrium in bargaining power is necessary to bring about peaceful co-existence and the settlement of conflicts.
Thailand reform has the goals to promote human dignity, peaceful life, and social security for all groups of people.