By Thai Newsroom Reporters
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER WISSANU Krea-ngam said today (August 9) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha cannot be compared with the late statesman Prem Tinsulanonda as to whether the former may ever step down after eight years in power.
The deputy premier in charge of legal affairs was responding to Prayut’s critics calling for Prayut to follow in the footsteps of Prem, a former army chief who had “learned to get enough of politics” and called it quits in 1988 after he had run the country as unelected premier for eight years.
Nevertheless, Wissanu insisted that Prayut not be compared with Prem during whose time, he said, the constitution did not provide a maximum of years in power for head of government unlike the current charter which provides a maximum of eight years.
Prem encountered a couple of aborted coups during his eight-year time whereas Prayut himself successfully orchestrated a coup as army chief in 2014.
During a press conference at Government House yesterday, Prayut immediately walked away when asked by reporters whether he may consider following in the footsteps of the late statesman.
It remains to be seen whether the Constitutional Court might again lend Prayut a helping hand in an historic legal battle obliging them to pinpoint exactly when his eight years in power maximumly provided by law will have ended with respect to clauses in the current constitution.
Thammasat University law lecturer Prinya Taewanarumitkul remarked that a majority in the nine-judge Constitutional Court, most of whom were handpicked by the Prayut-led coup junta, might probably pass a ruling in favour of the unelected premier so that he could continue to rule until 2025 on account of a maximum eight years beginning in 2017, the year in which the constitution was promulgated with lasting effect for that matter.
Nevertheless, Prinya said, there would be no arguments among the “politically-influenced” judges over the fact that Prayut has begun to rule since 2014, the year in which he staged the coup and then named himself as head of a military-installed government whilst the constitution stipulates that one’s period of tenure as head of government be counted from the year in which he or she may have begun to run the country, either before, during or after the year of the charter’s promulgation.
The Thammasat law lecturer said the event in which the Pheu Thai-led opposition bloc will file a petition against Prayut with the Constitutional Court ahead of August 24, the date on which he was named prime minister in 2014 following the coup that year, could practically spare the judges some painstaking pressure which might otherwise prompt a court order for him to stop performing as head of government, pending a court ruling on the historic case.
Top: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, right, and late statesman Prem Tinsulanonda, left, and the two of them with some military officers, Front Page. Top photo: Matichon newspaper, Front Page photo: Naewna