The coalition parties during their MOU signing, which was broadcast live nationwide. Courtesy of Thai PBS

Prospective government coalition led by MFP declares “social contract” while trying to form new government

Some critics say the coalition has addressed some structural problems, but still, it has missed mainstreaming the environment and community rights into the promise

The prospective government coalition parties led by the Move Forward Party picked the 9th coup anniversary, May 22, as the date to declare their “social contract” to mark the end of the coup and the beginning of Thailand’s new political chapter and democracy. 

They have come up with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) lumping up their commonalities and agendas to be pushed forward together for the people if they are endorsed as the new government, according to MFP leader Pita Limjaroenrat, who read the MOU and elaborated the idea during the press conference. Some thorny issues including the amendment of Article 112 or known as lese majeste have been excluded.

The coalition includes the parties of MFP, Pheu Thai, Prachachart, Thai Sang Thai, Seri Ruam Thai, Fair, Palang Sangkhom Mai and Pheu Thai Ruam Phalang, resulting in the coalition having 313 MPs. This is enough to form a government as it forms a majority already. The number of MPs in the Lower House is 500. But the coalition still needs 63 more MPs or Senators to get Mr. Pita endorsed as a new Prime Minister following Article 272 under the 2017 Constitution’s special Provision, which requires over half of the votes in the joint parliamentary session (376).

While earning praises from the public that its MOU is like a social contract so people can see what it would do together if endorsed as a new government, some critics say the MOU has missed mainstreaming natural resources and the environment and community rights as the fundamentals of their work in the future.

The MOU has not mentioned anything about the outgoing government’s BCG Economy Model. There are at least five agendas agreed by the coalition parties that have touched upon natural resources and environmental management. Still, they are pretty much issue-based, not being mainstreamed into the economic reform and development path of the coalition.

“It’s still much about economic liberalism, rather than socialism-driven agendas that we have missed to balance inequity in our society. We hope this would be integrated into their policies when they take office,” Thai Climate Justice for All, a coalition of climate justice advocates, remarked.

Below is the full detail of the MOU in English released by the MFP.

Memorandum of Understanding for the Formation of a Government

This joint memorandum of understanding is made to establish the foundation for the formation of a government and to work together among Move Forward Party, Pheu Thai Party, Thai Sang Thai Party, Prachachart Party, Seree Ruam Thai Party, Pheu Thai Ruam Palang Party, FAIR Party, and Plung Sungkom Mai Party.

All parties agree that every mission that the government will do must not affect the country’s status as a unitary state, the country’s status as a democracy under a constitutional monarchy framework, and the inviolable status of the monarch. All parties agree to work together on the following government tasks;

  1. Restore democracy, including expediting the process of drafting a new constitution by the Constitution Drafting Assembly elected directly by the people.
  2. Affirm and pass Marriage Equality Act to ensure equal rights for all couples, regardless of gender, without infringing upon the religious principles each individual adheres to.
  3. Push for reforms in the civil servant, police, military, and justice process to be in line with democratic principles, considering transparency, modernity, efficiency, and maximizing the benefits for the people.
  4. Transition from conscription to voluntary enlistment, except when the country is at war.
  5. Collaborate on the process of building sustainable peace in the southern border provinces, considering human rights, coexistence in a multicultural society, participation of all sectors, and reviewing the missions of agencies and laws related to security.
  6. Strive for decentralization of power and budget allocation to enable localities to respond to the needs of their communities appropriately, efficiently, and without corruption.
  7. Combat corruption through the establishment of a transparent and open government system, disclosing state information in all agencies.
  8. Revive the economy by increasing people’s incomes, reducing inequality, and creating a fair economic system that promote growth.
  9. Overhaul laws regarding the people’s livelihood and subsistence, such as temporarily suspending or reducing unnecessary and obstructive permits, providing financial relief and support for SMEs, while focusing on the GDP growth of SMEs, supporting industries, and strengthening Thai products to compete globally.
  10. Abolish monopolies and promote fair competition in all industries, such as alcoholic beverages, with Prachachart Party reserving their right to disagree on the alcohol industry only, due to religious reasons.
  11. Reform the land distribution system by amending related laws, providing fair land distribution, resolving conflicts between state and people on land ownership, and reviewing cases resulting from the policy of forest reclamation.
  12. Improve the electricity production structure, pricing calculations, and appropriate production capacity to reduce the cost of living and ensure energy security.
  13. Establish a new budgeting system, emphasizing the use of zero-based budgeting.
  14. Create a comprehensive welfare system from birth to old age, considering appropriateness and long-term fiscal sustainability.
  15. Combat drug problems urgently.
  16. Reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance via issuing Ministry of Health’s Notification, with new laws regulating and supporting its beneficial uses.
  17. Promote safe agriculture and livestock farming, protect and maintain the benefits of farmers, and reduce production costs. Support marketing, access to technology, water resources. Encourage the formation of agricultural groups for production planning, protection of farmers’ benefit, and promotion of agro-processing industries to create economic value from agricultural production.
  18. Revise fisheries laws, eliminate obstacles, remedy and develop sustainable fishing occupations.
  19. Improve the rights of workers in all professions by ensuring fair employment conditions and remuneration that align with the cost of living and economic growth.
  20. Elevate the healthcare system to ensure that the general public has access to quality healthcare services in terms of health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, and recovery.
  21. Reform educational system to enhance quality, reduce inequality, and promote lifelong learning.
  22. Foster domestic and international cooperation and mechanisms to address pollution issues, including the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions to net zero as quickly as possible.
  23. Implement foreign policy initiatives to restore Thailand’s leadership role in ASEAN and maintain a balanced international relations between Thailand and major powers.

All parties agree to collaborate on the following principles for national governance:

  1. All parties shall protect the rights of citizens and their civil liberties.
  2. All parties shall work with honesty and integrity. Any party member engaged in corrupt behavior shall be immediately removed from their position.
  3. All parties shall genuinely respect and support one another, promote teamwork, and consider the public’s interests as their priority, rather than the interests of any specific party.
  4. All parties have the right to advocate for additional policies as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in this agreement, through the executive power wielded by the ministers representing their respective parties in the government.
  5. All parties have the right to advocate for additional policies as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in this agreement, through the legislative power of the representatives from each political party.

The MOU was first published on Thai PBS World.