Roll back NCPO orders

Roll back NCPO orders

Civic groups stand behind boxes containing signatures backing a draft bill seeking to repeal the military regime's orders and announcements.Pornprom Satrabhaya
Civic groups stand behind boxes containing signatures backing a draft bill seeking to repeal the military regime's orders and announcements.Pornprom Satrabhaya

A draft bill forwarded on Monday by civic groups, led by iLaw, to push for the repeal of the military regime's "unjust and undemocratic" orders, along with moves by opposition parties to fulfil their pledges to amend the constitution, signify that the country's real road map to democracy may just be about to begin.

That says a great deal about how little the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) "road map to democracy", one of the pledges it made when it staged the 2014 coup, has achieved.

Despite letting the country have a general election in March, democracy has hardly had a look in. The polls were plagued with irregularities and allegations of procedures being rewritten and rigged in favour of pro-NCPO parties. The election ended up being branded at home and abroad as a sham.

Even with a new, elected government expected to take charge next month, the country will be governed under a half-baked democracy with many checks and balance mechanisms, including the Senate, largely run by those appointed by the NCPO.

These and other undemocratic elements were made possible not only by the 2017 constitution and laws created by the regime's so-called lawmakers, but also other forms of "legislation", issued in an exclusive and top-down manner by the regime, known as NCPO orders and announcements.

Since the putsch, more than 500 NCPO orders and announcements have been turned into law. Many of them have been repealed. But more than 200 continue functioning as law.

The civil groups have submitted a draft bill to the House Speaker to repeal 35 NCPO orders and announcements that they deem as infringing on the rights and liberties of the people. The draft was backed by 13,409 people through a signature-collection process that took 18 months to finish.

In fact, there are many more NCPO orders, issued after the signature collection started, which also need to be repealed. These include an order that empowers the military-led Internal Security Operations Command to handle civil affairs.

The opposition parties this week also announced their readiness to fulfil their campaign pledges to amend undemocratic parts of the constitution. These include provisions on senator selection and Senate power and a section that prolongs the legality of NCPO orders and announcements.

Amendments will not be easy, however. The constitution gives the Senate power to veto constitutional amendments and to vet any legislation relevant to the "national reform" agenda broadly defined therein.

The moves by both civil society and opposition parties deserve backing in parliament and by the public. It must be noted that parties campaigning for amendments to the constitution include the Democrats who are now part of the coalition government. They represent the majority of MPs in the Lower House. This means this agenda has the backing of most voters.

No one should oppose these efforts by simply claiming that the constitution received the mandate of the people. The 2016 constitutional referendum was not a straightforward process, with no-vote campaigners being intimidated, arrested and even jailed. Voters were not provided with sufficient understanding of the draft charter. The regime also did not give them an alternative to the draft.

These latest legislative moves will pave the way for the country to start cleaning up the mess left behind by the NCPO and make the transition to a real democracy.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

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