PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha meets with local politicians in Nakhon Sawan province yesterday
PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha meets with local politicians in Nakhon Sawan province yesterday

Prayut urges voters to resist picking ‘the same old faces’ at election

politics June 12, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged voters to look at “different political options” at the next general election as the ruling junta prepares to meet with politicians later this month.



PRIME MINISTER General Prayut Chan-o-cha has urged voters to look at “different political options” at the next general election as the ruling junta prepares to meet with politicians later this month.

“It starts from whether you will get a government with good governance. Please vote for people whom you trust, not only those whom you’re familiar with,” Prayut told local residents of Phichit during his field trip there yesterday. 

“If you get the same old faces and they can’t fix anything, think about that for yourselves,” he said.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has tentatively scheduled a meeting with political parties for later this month, when the two remaining organic laws are expected to be promulgated, giving more certainty to the long-delayed election.

The NCPO expects to meet both existing and new parties – some of the latter have already indicated their support for the current regime and even for the retired former Army chief to continue his premiership after the election.

Widely viewed as the junta’s attempt to put political parties “in order” ahead of the national vote, the meeting is the subject of concern among politicians who want it to address issues, including it being broadcast live and the lifting |of the junta’s ban on political activities.

The NCPO is still working on the details of exactly how and when the election will take place.

Prayut, meanwhile, has led his Cabinet members on a two-day visit to the lower northern provinces of Phichit and Nakhon Sawan for yet another mobile Cabinet tour. 

Prayut has been on nationwide tours at least once a month for more than a year to “keep in touch” with local bases and approve budgets for local development projects.

The cabinet tours have however, been staged amid criticism that Prayut is spending public funds to organise the trips in order to boost his political popularity among provincial residents. Last month in Buri Ram, Prayut was enthusiastically welcomed by more than 30,000 locals just a day before his Cabinet approved a costly irrigation project.

In Nakhon Sawan yesterday, Prayut also met with more than a dozen local former MPs and senators based in lower northern and upper central provinces from several political parties.

“I have only come to follow up on development projects, not to campaign for politics as people with ill intentions claim,” the premier told the locals yesterday. 

Meanwhile, a key figure in the Chart Thai Pattana Party yesterday urged the junta to revise its order so political parties could accept new members as soon as possible.

Varawut Silapa-archa, a key adviser to the party’s leader, said the NCPO Order No 53/2017 needed to be amended to allow political parties to accept new members.

He warned that without any revision, the order could cause problems at the next election, particularly regarding parties fielding their candidates. Varawut explained that the new electoral law required political parties to hold primary votes among members in order to select their election candidates.

The politician said the law set minimum numbers of party members in holding primary voting for candidates in all 350 constituencies and many parties currently did not meet that requirement. For example, he said, Chart Thai has a little over 4,000 registered members to confirm their membership. It needs between 8,000 and 10,000, for primary voting if the party wants to field election candidates in all 350 constituencies throughout the country, Varawut said.

“I ask for sympathy. The NCPO should at least unlock this rule to allow political parties to accept new members now,” he said.

The NCPO order was issued last December as an amendment to the new Political Parties Act. The order only allowed existing political parties to have their registered members confirm their membership during the month of April. 

Most parties saw no more than 10 per cent of their registered members confirm their membership. The junta has not allowed political parties to accept new members since.