Key Principles for Draft Public Consultation Act (Main Points) (ชัยวัฒน์ วงศ์วัฒนศานต์)
Key Principles for Draft Public Consultation Act (Main Points)
Key Principles for Draft
Public Consultation Act (Main
Wongwattanasan, Secretary General, Council of State
I.Methods and practices
for public consultation II.Scope
for public consultation
III.Procedures for public consultation
and responsibilities responding to the result of public consultation
Due to the wide
range of the agency activities that can impact the public or large groups of people,
for public consultation to be effective, it should not apply only one method. Therefore,
be many methods for public consultation so that the agencies can choose
appropriate methods for governmental activities or projects.
could be done in several forms such as survey polls, question and answer, written comments,
paper hearings, seminars, workshops, and public hearings.
Methods for public consultation could be divided into two categories: 1.
Formal Consultation (formal comment & public hearings)
between agencies and the public or a group ofpeoplewhomaybedirectlyimpactedfromproject implementation
Clearly analyze reasoning from both sides
2. General Consultation
Consult between the
public and agencies for small activities or
projects that are not complex
Methods could be
divided into two types: (1) written comments including
questionnaires and (2) consultationin the form of meetings
Issues for Discussion
is effective since the process is informal, easy to implement, relatively quick, and not
costly. General consultation provides opportunity for all stakeholders to understand the issues without
creating "confrontation" between supporters and opponents.
may be appropriate for activities or a project that may significantly affect a large
group of people and create many conflicts. Technical experts will also be
required to support decision-making and achieve acceptance of the result. Doing
so may create
financial and technical burdens to agencies in implementing their plans for the
public benefit. Therefore, the necessity and appropriateness of this type of
consultation should be considered.
II. Scope of Activities for Applying Public Consultation Methods
Types of activities
requiring public consultation should be defined for both formal and informal methods.
1. Governmentalagencyactivitiesthatrequireformalpublic consultation include
Activities that may
significantly impact environmental quality and
require by law that environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies be conducted
Agencies may select
appropriate methods for general public consultation
A Royal Decree should
be passed to define scope of activities that
require public consultation to ensure implementation and enforcement.
Issues for discussion
consultation will enable the government to respond to the interests of the affected
public. Formal consultation, however, will be time consuming and costly. Conducting
Formal consultation may result in delaying the public benefit related to the proposed provision
will be relatively rapid and easy to implement, but may not resolve potential
conflict, leading to disruption of the actual implementation of the project.
In sum, the law must
clearly determine which types of consultation should be applied under
specific circumstances to both provide opportunity for consultation without harming the
Military activities, foreign policy, public safety
Emergency activities required under the law or
international agreements which if delayed will
harm the country or the public, as determined by the Cabinet.
HI. Procedures for Public Consultation Proposal
for general consultation methods
a.Inform the public on governmental projects through
notice in the community to inform them about
government policy in implementing the activities or projects by announcing
them in the local newspaper, radio or by sending a letter to
affected persons in advance.
b.Provide complete information related to the
project that will be implementedin the community,including thenecessity for
its implementation, etc.
c.Procedures for public consultation include (1) the
location where the public may request
additional information or send in comments or conduct a seminar, and
(2) time frame for the public to send in their comments or to conduct
seminar or meetings.
d.Prepareconsultationreportincludingtheresultofthe consultation, and announce the result to the public in a timely fashion.
2.Procedures for formal public consultation
a.Notification of a state project can be done to the
public by sending out a letter regarding
agencies to concerned parties in the community
of information regarding the activities or projects can be done consistently.
Setting up a branch
office at the local district office building in the area
where the project or activity is taking place.
Provision of an
official (from the public or private sector) at the branch
office to give further details about the project or activity for any
one who wants to know.
Setting the date,time,andplaceof thewould-bepublic consultation session. This also
includes duration for which people may give their opinion verbally.
c.There shall be a meeting between state agency and
the public or other groups of concerned people in
order to define the scope and issues that need to be studied in
the person who will conduct the study (consultant). This should be done with collaboration
between the state agency (or the private sector) that proposed the project
and the public or organizations that are involved in
such activity or project.
e.Provision of a specialist or an advisor for the
people or groups of people who are directly affected by the project or activity.
f.There shall be a meeting to announce the results of
the study made by the consultant and to
solicit more comments from the public.
g.Ways to listen to the opinions
There shall be an organization that is responsible
matter.This could bein the form of anopinion gathering committee that would include
representatives from state agencies involved, people or groups of people
who are directly affected, and qualified academics in different
fields. However, the body of the committee should be in good
proportion so as to ensure transparency and credibility of the committee.
h. The responsible
state agency or private company shall be responsible for the costs of conducting the
opinion gathering sessions, which include compensation for the committee members.
i. Preparation of the opinion gathering
Thestateagencyorprivatecompanyresponsiblefor the project,
activity, must do this. This could be a report submitted to the responsible state agency.
The public may obtain
details of this report, which may also be used to request to the court
for a review of such order made by the state agency.
j. The responsible
state agency must disclose the results of the public consultation sessions,
including comments and suggestions to the public in due course.
Note: There shall be exceptions to the public
consultation sessions, which include commercial confidentiality, industrial
confidentiality, and all
other confidentialities that are protected by law
Issues for Discussion
All processes of the
public consultation may bring about costs and prolonged decision making by the state.
Therefore, choosing the right method of consultation in respect to the
project/activity concerned will cause good balance both for the society and the
Sometimes there may
be a group of individuals who try to exploit the pubic consultation sessions for
their own benefit. Therefore, choosing the right groups of representatives is very important here so as to ensure a smooth
As for the agency
that will be responsible for conducting the public consultation, if this can be done by
the responsible agency (project proponent), it may save a significant amount of
money, but may pose problems
with the validity. However, if this would be done by a specific organization (e.g. an independent organization),
there may be other issues of concern, such as higher operation costs, and roles
and functions of the independent organization.
The setting of
detailed procedures and mechanisms in the law may not be practical enough to adjust
them for specific activity. Therefore, there should only be a set of principles in
the law and let other details be covered by other specific laws in the future.
IV. Agency Response
to Public Consultation
1.The responsible state agency must take into account all comments and
information obtained during thepublic consultationsessions before a final decision would
be made on the project/activity.
2.The state agency is not obligated to follow the results from the public
consultation sessions, but it must be able to provide rational explanations to the public
regarding its decision.
3.The adjudication process of the state agency involved will have a direct
obligation with other state agencies with which it must be followed.
4. In the event where individual(s) feel that the
adjudication was not made upon the results from the public consultation
sessions(s), there shall be a request for a judicial review on such
Issues for Discussion
consultation is only a process for which the government could obtain opinions from
the public regarding certain activity/project, which will be used to help in the
government decision making. But it is not obligatory that the government must
decide upon the conclusions
reached at the consultation session(s). However, the government must be able to provide explanations to the public on its decision.
consultation process is to give an opportunity to the public in the state decision-making.
But the following question is that the demands from each individual or groups
of individuals are usually different. How
should we decide when the process should be ended so the government
could begin proceeding with the project for the
common benefit of the public.