Saturday, October 8, 2011

Surakiart in a new role as 'honest broker'

Surakiart Sathirathai, recently appointed an adviser to the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC), doesn't believe that even if Thaksin Shinawatra and Gen Prem Tinsulanonda sit down and work out a compromise, Thailand's long-standing conflict could be brought to an end.

"The problem has gone much beyond that. Besides, that kind of a forum can't be organized either because a privy councillor can't get involved in politics in the first place," the former deputy premier told Matichon in an interview published today.

Surakiart believes though that a series of "unpublicized negotiations" could be held whereby five to six parties are represented: the yellow shirts, the red shirts, Pheu Thai Party, the Democrats, and the security side.

What about the "invisible hands?" Surakiart says if one talks about "invisible hands," there could be from many sides. "In fact, each party to the conflict all has its own invisible hands as well."

Yes, they will have to be included in the process, he says, stressing that some of the discussions may have to be done off the record.

What about the royal institition? Surakiarts believes privy councillors have nothing to do with politics.

There is even question about who he himself represents in this new peace-making role.
Surakiart reacted promptly to the question.

"This kind of questions shouldn't be raised anymore. People should stop following that line of thinking. I am not a new face in politics and I have a long record of academic work," he said.

Although his wife is related to Her Majesty the Queen, Surakiart says, "we never discuss politics. I have no connections."

Surakiart has obviously assumed a new role. He was once close to Thaksin. He also was seen to be close to the Abhisit government when he was made chairman of the advisory board of the Pheau Paendin Party. Today, he wears a new hat -- as an adviser to the national reconciliation body. Of course, he will well connected. And that probably is why he is proposing a new formula to make peace.

He knows the challenge is enormous though. "The problem in the past five to six years is that we haven't had a referee trusted by all the parties concerned. Everyone who has proposed a way out has been given a label. He or she has been inevitably branded as siding with one side or the other. Now, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission appears to be the most trusted body. That's why I feel more optimistic," Surakiart says.

He will have to prove that he can play the part of the "honest broker" effectively. That remains to be seen.

No comments: