The tendency of governments to shoot themselves in the foot never ceases to amaze. In Thailand's latest high-profile case of official self-affliction, the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra lost the plot when it tried to rope in key domestic power brokers to work on a "political reform council" and invited prominent international figures to promote reconciliation and unity. Conflating these two parallel tracks of reform and compromise has led to controversy and confusion. The best way for the Yingluck government to ensure the utility and effectiveness of these exercises is to get out of the way completely.
In the face of looming anti-government protests, Ms Yingluck issued a plea on Aug 2 urging all sides to come together and work out their differences regardless of their political colour, social status and creed. Thus her "political reform council" was born. It seemed like a genuine call at the time as anti-government demonstrators openly geared up once again to overthrow an elected government midway through its four-year term, this time joined in separate street rallies by supporters of the main opposition Democrat Party.
Ms Yingluck's manoeuvre was clever. While the street demonstrations failed to attract a critical mass, the Yingluck initiative further defused tensions by its quest for an inclusive reform council. Here is where possibly good intentions unmistakably soured.
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