MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat addressed young businessmen/women yesterday with the coalition's inclusive economic growth. Credit: MFP

EDITORIAL: Priority is needed amid the cloudy future of Thai politics

The prospective government coalition needs to review its post-election period before muddling too deep into murky politics and ending up losing its steps in moving the country towards “sustainable” democracy

Finally, Thai voters have said; they wanted change for the better, and they wanted progress, moving forward after years of political and economic struggle. On May 14, they voted for the progressive party coalition led by Move Forward Party, which altogether won 313 MP seats.

Two weeks have passed since the election, and the prospective government coalition has been formed. Altogether, the coalition led by the MFP has the MP seats from eight parties far enough to form a new government as the House requires 500. But because the 2017 Constitution requires over half of the votes from the first joint parliamentary session, or 376 out of 750 (500 MPs, and 250 Senators) for a new Prime Minister, so it’s still uncertain whether the coalition can vy enough votes to move forward in the Parliament.

But the coalition does not sit still. They are moving forward while not getting into the Parliament by first declaring their “social contract” to the people. On May 22, the 9th coup anniversary, the coalition announced their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lumping up their commonalities and agendas to be pushed forward together for the people.

The MOU has shown their strong will to wield the power and direct the country as intended when campaigning for votes, but if the 23 shared agendas can suggest anything, it could be that the prospective government coalition focuses too much on politics.

Among the first agendas addressed in the MOU are much about politics, although some thorny issues of amendment of Article 112, known as lese majeste, were removed. These range from the first and foremost task of writing a new Constitution, reforming the bureaucratic system, the military, and the justice system, decentralisation, combating corruption, and a few others.

The point is being highlighted to the public as the parties within the coalition at the moment are vying for a top post of the Parliament although this could break their coalition apart. The MFP which is the leader of the camp has made it clear over the past few days the reasons why it wishes to get a House Speaker post. The party claimed that it also has the first and foremost party agendas to push for the writing of a new Constitution and amendment of at least 45 laws, including Article 112. So far, the MFP has not yet stepped back and agreed that veteran politicians from other coalition parties could take this post.

People are sensing their political will, but the parties themselves seem not to sense enough about the growing public sentiment against their moves.

Aside from politics, the country’s economy is also a critical issue that needs to be urgently addressed so that it could be properly revived after the pandemic. In the coalition’s MOU, some critical economic-related agendas have been addressed including the cracking of monopolies and the introduction of a new state budgeting system. 

The body of the economy itself will also be revived. This will focus on inclusiveness and equality as stated in No.8 of the MOU that “Revive the economy by increasing people’s incomes, reducing inequality, and creating a fair economic system that promotes growth.

What is critically missing from the economic reform that the government coalition intended to push forward is sustainability and resilience_the elements that could help shield the country from future challenges including climate change and the next pandemic. In other words, the sustainable and resilient “Green” development or growth is not yet comprehensively addressed by this coalition.

These two elements are largely involved with natural resources and the environment, but the coalition has not mainstreamed them into its economic development path. Agendas about natural resources and the environment, four or five of them, were addressed separately and they are fragmented or much issue-based, hardly having anything to do with sustainable development or widely accepted now as a “Green” deal. (Read: Prospective government coalition led by MFP declares “social contract” while trying to form new government)

Up until this point, coalition parties have not yet addressed the integration of natural resources and the environment for their economic reform as they are too busy with unsettled politics. The political wrangling could sink their boat and they can not get to their destination; the democratic government formation.

If that’s largely the case, it would be a large failure, not just for the parties themselves, but for the Thai people, who have already voiced out that they wanted change for the better; not just politics, but the economy and society.

A good will is one thing, but priority is indeed needed as it is a critical factor to determine whether he or she can take the right step towards his or her goals. The coalition is no exception.