Parties agree selected senate is bad idea.
FORMER prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned yesterday that the junta’s suggestions for a more powerful selected Senate and a non-elected prime minister could lead to a new round of political conflict.
The Democrat Party leader urged the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) to carefully consider whether to revise its draft charter to incorporate the suggestions by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and other core government agencies, namely the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly.
“If there is confusion in the system, you will be unable to get rid of suspicion and the allegation of attempting to stay on in power. What happens next is conflict. And this will destroy everything, including what the NCPO has done,” Abhisit said.
He said he was worried the new constitution could cause conflict in the future. “That will benefit no one,” he added.
The Democrat leader also said that CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan appeared to be aware of the viewpoints of the parties involved. “If it is clear that you are going to create conditions for a new conflict, [so] it’s better not to do it,” he added.
However, Abhisit said he was convinced Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also heads the NCPO, had no intention of holding on to power. He said he understood that Prayut was concerned the country’s problems seen before the 2014 coup would return after he steps down.
“But he should correctly determine the problem and tackle the problem in a straightforward manner. And he has to prevent suspicion that he and his team will become part of the conflict by staying on in power,” the former prime minister said.
Abhisit said a suggestion by the NCPO to have six top military generals appointed to a 250-member selected Senate was against democratic principles. He said that allowing permanent state officials to also act as senators empowered to scrutinise the government was “not right and could cause confusion in the system”.
Meanwhile, the Pheu Thai Party yesterday agreed that it was against democratic principles to allow selected senators to scrutinise and censure an elected administration.
“Military and police commanders are permanent state officials who are supposed to follow government policies. And they instead will be empowered to scrutinise the government,” the party said in a statement released yesterday.
Pheu Thai said it viewed the NCPO suggestions as an attempt to control the post-election government through its proxies, namely selected senators and a non-elected prime minister.
It said the new constitution was aimed at maintaining the NCPO’s power while failing to respect the voice of the people because it established control over the administrative and legislative branches.
Also yesterday, Meechai said the CDC had completed about 80 per cent of its revision work. He added that the drafters would consider the NCPO suggestions next Monday.
The CDC has until March 29 to complete the final draft constitution that will be put to a national referendum.
Earlier on Wednesday, senior figures from the country’s two major political camps – Democrat and Pheu Thai – had cried foul over the junta’s suggestions, expressing concern that they would allow the military to dictate politics and the fate of the country for a long time.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, a key NCPO figure, insisted yesterday that selected senators would have no special powers over an elected government. He said the senators’ main duty would be to make sure the NCPO’s 20-year strategies for national reform were implemented.
“I have said many times already that we focus on reform and national strategies, and there are no other goals. Also, there is no hidden agenda at all,” he told reporters.