MEDIA representatives and bureaucrats make up over half of the seven finalists selected as prospective new members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The seven were chosen from among 29 applicants and come from a mix of backgrounds as required by the new Constitution. The shortlisted candidates will be vetted by a committee of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) before being voted in by the assembly.
Two of the finalists, – Somsri Hananantasuk and Pairoj Pholpetch – come with media backgrounds. The former is a one-time member of the policy committee of the state-funded television channel Thai PBS, while the latter is a current member of that committee.
Another two – Pitikan Sitthidet and Pornprapai Kanchanarin – are, respectively, the former directors of the Justice Ministry’s department of rights and liberty protection and the Foreign Ministry’s department of international organisation.
Social activists Suraphong Kongchantueg and Boontan Tansuthepveeravong are also among the shortlisted candidates.
Lawyer Suraphong has an elaborate background in social activism, largely on issues related to minority and stateless people, while Boontan is secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy and Foundation for Human Rights and Development.
The last candidate, Jaturong Boonyaratanasunthorn, is an expert on social welfare from Huachiew Chalermprakiet University.
All seven finalists will be further scrutinised by an NLA committee over the next 45 days before a vote is taken on their endorsement.
The current NHRC members were dismissed under a new organic law but are acting as caretakers.