Flaws in Suthep's plan to install a new government
May 13, 2014 00:00 By Somroutai Sapsomboon
It will be interesting to see this week whether the six-month attempt of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led by Suthep Thaugsuban, will come to an end and what the result will be.
The goal set by Suthep is, literally, to eradicate the Thaksin regime, while in practice it is to form a neutral government to push for national reform before a new election.
Suthep adjusted his strategy to be proactive late last week after the Constitutional Court disqualified caretaker PM Yingluck Shinawatra and nine Cabinet ministers over the illegal transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri.
The second blow to the government came when the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) indicted Yingluck on Thursday over the rice-pledging scheme.
This decision might not affect Yingluck in the short term, as the indictment would only have resulted in a suspension from duty had she not already left.
But if she is impeached, she would not be able to run in the election, and she might also face up to 10 years in prison.
After the Constitutional Court and the NACC decisions, Suthep decided to launch his “final battle” sooner – last Friday, instead of tomorrow – to keep the momentum going.
PDRC supporters joined in rallies at many TV stations but the real strategic plan was aimed at the vote to select a new Senate Speaker on Friday.
The group expected deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai to win the post. If Surachai didn’t win, the PDRC would have adopted a more aggressive strategy.
Surachai won with 96 votes, which exceeds the three-fifths of total Senate members required to impeach a political office holder. If the group of majority senators continue to stick together, it might be the first time that the Senate votes to impeach someone.
The people in the firing line include Yingluck, former Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij and former Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont, the latter two in hot water over the alleged illegal move to amend the constitution on composition of the Senate.
Furthermore, the anti-government group expects the Senate Speaker to be the main mechanism for the establishment of the “neutral government” it wants.
Suthep previously announced he would nominate the name of the PM for royal endorsement – a move that drew heavy criticism.
Now he says the task should be the responsibility of the Senate Speaker, the presidents of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as the Election Commission chairman.
The PDRC does not accept acting PM Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan and insists that there is no government – only a political vacuum at present.
It is clear that Suthep adjusted his strategy and is trying to keep things more in line with the law than in the past. He hopes that the Senate Speaker, the head of the remaining legislative branch, will be able to make his plan come true.
However, it’s not that easy. The decision-making when setting up a neutral government would not rest solely with Surachai but would also involve the heads of other independ?ent agencies. Furthermore, it has yet to be seen how a new government would be accepted while the Pheu Thai-led government is still the caretaker administration.
Suthep said that if his proposal is not accepted, he would make it happen. But his success or failure will depend on his supporter numbers, and he has been calling for the support of government officials and the military all along.