Govt's chance to make an impact - Bangkok Post

The government's decision to appoint red-shirt leaders and supporters to political positions is courting criticism, which is understandable.

AreeKrainara,second left, and Yoswaris Chuklom, left, red shirts appointed to political positions,pay their respects to a shrine of deities before starting work at the Interior Ministry yesterday.MrAree, head of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship red guard, serves as secretary to Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, andMr Yoswaris is assistant to Deputy Interior Minister Thanit Thienthong's secretary. APICHART JINAKUL

Some red-shirt appointees lack experience relevant to the positions they have been put in.

But those political appointments _ assistants, advisers, secretaries and assistant secretaries to ministers _ should be seen for what they are, which is a reward for supporting the government.

This government did not create them. They have been in place for decades _ a political civil servant law was revised in 1992, during Anand Panyarachun's tenure as prime minister, to recognise their status and salary.

Abhisit Vejjajiva's government appointed people to political positions too.

Judging the government on its performance would be more sensible, as it is far more revealing about its intentions and likely success with the public.

The government has moved swiftly to implement the policies it promised during the election.

These include the temporary halting of levies to the oil fund to cut the price of petrol, and attempts to give tax returns to first-time car buyers.

These achievements risk being overshadowed by a messy battle to oust national police chief Wichean Potephosree, supposedly sparked by revelations that police top brass allowed huge casinos to flourish in the city unchecked.

Yet just as new governments want to appoint their own people to key jobs, so will they want to get rid of people associated with the old order.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung's showdown with Pol Gen Wichean, whom he is trying to force out of his job, has antagonised some police who feel such pressure tactics compromise their integrity.

The saga could have been handled better, given that former police chiefs such as Gen Kowit Watana or Gen Pracha Promnok are part of the government.

These are early days, with the government still coming to grips with the demands of office.

As she settles into power, PM Yingluck Shinawatra needs articulate people who can knock back opposition critics and explain government policies to the public, especially if the changes are to be rolled out at such a rapid clip.

Instead of worrying about criticism about red-shirt appointees, Ms Yingluck should focus on more substantial issues.

She has a chance to make a lasting first impression by tackling the legacy of last year's clashes between security forces and the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Families of victims who lost their lives or were injured in the clashes complain that justice _ or even a credible explanation of what happened _ has been too long in coming.

Ms Yingluck, in a show of good faith to those families, should open the floor of parliament to debate how the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, set up by the Abhisit government, should carry out its search for the truth of what happened.

The government should involve the public in the discussion as well, as national reconciliation will not be achieved unless everyone feels they have a stake in the outcome.

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01 Sep, 2011

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