Thursday, March 24, 2011

Administrative Reform through Decentralization and Community Empowerment

On the Inside Thailand news feed from the Public Relations Department of the Thai government, an article with the lengthy title Administrative Reform through Decentralization and Community Empowerment was posted yesterday. Though it does not have much hard facts in it, some parts are still worth quoting.
The Government is pushing for issuance of laws to promote decentralization of administrative power and empower the community. The administrative reform will enable local organizations to play a greater role in the management of local affairs.
He [Prime Ministrer] cited the move to upgrade Mae Sot district in Tak province into a special administrative zone as an example of decentralization of administrative power. The Cabinet has already given the green light to the legislation on the Mae Sot special administrative zone. The legislation is pending consideration by Parliament. Once approved by Parliament, Mae Sot will be granted new powers and responsibilities, and laws and regulations introduced by the special zone should override those of the central administration. It will become a model for other towns planning to enjoy true decentralization of power.
This confirms the status I knew about this project, and since now parliament is busy with the preparations of house dissolution and the laws necessary for the election under the amended constitution, it's unlikely this law will be considered in parliament in this term anymore.
Dr. Prawase Wasi, Chairman of the National Reform Assembly, also called for decentralization and community empowerment in his keynote address on Thailand Reform in early March 2011. He said that centralization of power would lead to dire consequences. For instance, it weakens communities, making them unable to handle local affairs. Centralization also leads to conflicts between local culture and central administration, weakens bureaucracy, paves the way for rampant corruption and a substandard political system, and makes it easier to stage a coup d’√©tat. Decentralization of administrative power will make it difficult for any group to seize administrative power.
I have a posting on Prawase's keynote half-finished, but sadly still don't know what he actually suggests as measure to move to a more decentralized country. All I read so far was that he suggests to strengthen local administration in village councils and the TAO, not really unexpected for something named decentralization to mean giving more power to local administration.

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