By Thai Newsroom Reporters
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT legislation historically endorsed by the people to keep Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from prolonging his rule beyond the next election was today (Nov. 17) overwhelmingly voted down by government MPs and senators.
Following a marathon debate in a joint House of Representatives/Senate session, the amendment bill was rejected by 473 naysayers, including 249 government MPs and 224 senators, all of whom were handpicked by Prayut.
That compared to 206 votes for the amendment bill cast by 203 opposition MPs and three senators. The number of yeasayers came up far short of half the total of mixed lawmakers accounting for 362 to sail through the principle-approval stage.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Parit Wacharasindhu were among members of Re-Solution Group who had mustered over 135,000 people to sign up the aborted legislation to amend the military-designed constitution and disrupt Prayut’s planned prolonging of rule beyond the next election.
Under the 2017 constitution, the military-appointed senators are not only empowered to filter legislations forwarded from the House but to cast votes alongside MPs for head of a post-election government, thus prompting the proponents to seek in vain the abolition of the Senate allegedly used as tools for the powers that be.
That apparently referred to the case in which Prayut was named candidate for premier by the military-installed Palang Pracharath Party and overwhelmingly endorsed by the military-appointed senators following the 2019 election. In 2014, then-army chief Prayut orchestrated the coup to oust an elected Yingluck Shinawatra administration and managed to name himself an unelected premier in concurrent fashion of acting as head of the coup-making junta.
The proponents had fruitlessly sought to have the charter amended to the extent that the existing procedures for the naming of judges of the Constitutional Court be altered to prevent the military or other elements of the elite who are unelected or unconnected to the people from appointing them, the powers of those judges be trimmed down to the extent at which they could only pass judgments on legal disputes and could no longer dissolve political parties or impeach defendant politicians and an impartial examination be conducted into relevant performances of those judges.
The amendment proponents and opposition MPs questioned the legal and ethical integrity of the current judges of the Constitutional Court who were handpicked by the Prayut regime and recently ruled that on-the-street moves for monarchical reform spearheaded by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration were merely designed to “undermine democratic rule with the Monarch as head of state” and chose to not lend an ear to the pro-reform activists who categorically dismissed such accusations.
The Parliament meeting chamber with an image of the Democracy Monument overlaid. Photo: Matichon
Home Page: Move Forward Party MPs gather for a photo op after the charter amendment bill was voted down. Photo: Siam Rath