Bangkok Post | 30 January 2007
PM urged to guarantee transparency
ANUCHA CHAROENPO KULTIDA SAMABUDDHI
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and intellectual property law experts have called on Prime Minister Gen Surayud Chulanont to draft a trade negotiation bill to guarantee transparency in trade talks.
The experts, led by NHRC chairman Saneh Chamarik, proposed that Gen Surayud engineer the bill during their closed-door meeting with the premier yesterday.
The legislation would safeguard Bangkok from any disadvantages incurred by bilateral trade agreements, said Prof Saneh.
Under the bill, the government would be required to disclose the details of pacts as well as their pros and cons for public consideration.
Public hearings and a House debate would also be needed before the government signs an agreement.
The meeting, joined by Foreign Affairs deputy minister Sawanit Kongsiri and Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet, was held a week after the cabinet approved the draft Thai-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) and forwarded the trade pact for consideration by the National Legislative Assembly.
The move drew fierce criticism from anti-FTA groups and human rights activists, who fear the pact will do more harm than good to Thai people.
"Several FTA agreements have been inked under the previous government without thorough consultation with affected sectors and the public. These trade pacts are likely to have an immense impact on Thai consumers and farmers," said Prof Saneh. "We don’t want future governments to repeat such mistakes."
The commissioner also urged Gen Surayud to disclose the details of the Thai-Japan FTA and reconsider the controversial parts that could push Bangkok into a disadvantageous position.
"The prime minister has promised to look into our recommendations, but he insisted that some parts of the trade pact could not be disclosed as it will have a negative impact on the country’s negotiation strategy," Prof Saneh said.