I am prepared to stand down as ombudsman if required, he says
The newly elected president of the National Legislative Assembly has opted to double as an ombudsman – but will choose to serve as the NLA head solely if he has to.
Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, a legal adviser for the junta, unanimously won presidency of the assembly, while Surachai Liengboonlertchai, former Speaker in the Senate, and Peerasak Porchit, the former deputy Senate Speaker, were selected as first and second vice presidents respectively.
The appointment of Pornpetch as NLA president means he now holds two of the country’s most important posts – the other one is his job as ombudsman.
Asked if he would have a conflict of interest in the investigation of a complaint against the NLA that was filed to the Ombudsman’s Office, he said: “This could be a problem – [so] I will not be involved with investigating that case” against the NLA.
“My appointment to the NLA role does not violate the law – that’s the most important point. However, there are other factors such as what is appropriate, or conflict of interest, that I will have to consider. I may have to choose between the two.”
He said this despite saying earlier that the NLA presidency was the most prestigious post he had ever been given.
NLA members had nominees for the posts of president and vice president fixed in mind when they voted yesterday for uncontested candidates, as had been speculated.
All three were the only candidates nominated for the posts.
Although the actual voting was quick and went smoothly, there was some disagreement before the process began in regard to whether each nominated candidate should express his vision, as suggested by former senator Wallop Tangkana-nurak, as the voting was being televised to the nation. However, with only one candidate nominated for each post with no rival contestants, the assembly voted against that idea.
Meanwhile, some NLA members appeared unable to use the voting machine properly, which resulted in the first count having a significant number of votes “missing”.
The NLA secretary then showed the members who had trouble how to operate it.
Pornpetch, the newly elected president, saw the unanimous vote for him and his deputies as a symbol of members’ unity to push for progress swiftly.
He said one of the NLA’s key responsibilities was the nomination of cabinet members, which will be done after he receives royal endorsement.