Showdown beckons

Showdown beckons

In less than 24 hours before the voting for prime minister starts in parliament today, the Election Commission (EC) jumpstarted the process to disqualify Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat from the top job, citing his alleged iTV share ownership.

The agency yesterday sent the case to the Constitutional Court, asking it to suspend the MFP leader as an MP immediately. The MFP and its sympathisers found the rush unacceptable. The party questioned if the EC had misstepped, challenging the move’s legality as the agency failed to pinpoint the attemped foul play in the case, let alone the complications in the iTV case. This includes how could Mr Pita control the media channel given the fact that the company had been in dormancy for more than a decade.

The MFP said it’s upsetting that the EC did not pay attention to attempts by whistle-blowers to distort information in the complaints.

It’s reported that PM selection is to begin today as scheduled. While it may take some time before the court hands a ruling, pundits believe the immediate effect from the EC move is to make Mr Pita appear unfit for the job and to give the junta- appointed Senate some justification to reject him. The MFP and its coalition allies, which has 312 votes, need another 60 to elect Mr Pita as PM. The charter demands that a successful PM candidate must bag at least 376 votes from a joint sitting of the Lower House and the Senate.

The latest development shows attempts by the conservative side to maintain power, despite its massive election loss. In doing so, they simply fail to respect voters’ wishes and have used every tactics, some egregious, to maintain the status quo.

Some senators who had pledged support for Mr Pita reportedly complained of intimidation and blackmail. Others confirm that there are bribe offers so that they would change their mind. Scandals and rumours that riddle the Upper House do not bode well for the institution and for democracy.

What is going on is bad for democracy and the country. A little reminder for all involved, the country is plunged into trouble every time losers fail to accept their loss and the public’s wishes. The May 1992 uprising, a result of coup makers trying to cling onto power, should be a cautionary tale. People with a conscience know that it should not be repeated.

More than nine years with the junta and junta- turned-politicians, voters wanted changes and that was clear in the election results.

The MFP is right. What the country needs now is a chance to bring back normalcy to the parliamentary system. It would be in the best interests of the country if all the players allow parliament to function with no more extra behind-the- scenes control, and make parliament a rule- based institution.

The ignorance of the powers-that-be regarding the people’s mandate gives pro-democracy elements and MFP sympathisers reasons to take politics to the streets. At the newspaper went to print yesterday evening, political groups vowed demonstrations, probably the start of political turbulence.

The country is bracing for a political showdown which, if it gets out of hand, could be a loss for everyone.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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