Uphold true democracy

Uphold true democracy

June 24 marks a historic day in Thailand's politics and democracy as it was the day when the country went through a drastic change from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in what is known as a bloodless revolution by the people's party in 1932.

But 89 years on, there has been no major progress in the country's democratisation which most of the time has drawn back to square one as the military has refused to return to the barracks. During the past eight decades there have been 13 coups, 11 coup attempts, and one bloodless revolution on June 24. On average, there has been a coup every three years and four months.

Looking back to 1932, today is the day when the country had its first supreme law, an interim charter written by the People's Party, mostly comprised of young, Western-educated soldiers and civilian leaders who later broke up in a fierce power game.

Thailand over the past eight decades largely has come under a guided democracy with power concentrated in the hands of a small group of people. The will of King Rama VII was made public when he abdicated in 1935 and relinquished his power to the people, although no group of people has ever been properly respected.

Of the total 20 charters that were later promulgated, most were written in a way that allowed the men in uniform to intervene and prolong power. Among them is the 2017 constitution drafted by a military-appointed panel during the time of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha who ousted an elected government in a coup in 2014.

The current charter contains several undemocratic clauses that are of benefit to the former NCPO leader, who also enjoys the benefit of laws such as the Elections Act, that stripped big election winners such as Pheu Thai of their influence.

With help from some independent organisations established by the military, Gen Prayut, together with his brothers in arms, transformed himself into a politician, beating his political rivals.

It's not a coincidence that charter change is now back as a big issue, following failed amendment attempts by the people's sector.

Parliament will meet and decide today whether to endorse the 13 drafts for section by section amendments as proposed by both the government and opposition bloc.

One of the most crucial is a change to Section 272 that gives the military-appointed Senate the power to appoint the prime minister.

The Palang Pracharath Party, as coalition leader, wants to keep the controversial section intact, and this means Gen Prayut, who has ruled the country for more than seven years, could be re-named prime minister with the support of 250 senators after the next elections. If the PPRP has its way, the charter amendment would be a wasted opportunity.

What is best for Gen Prayut and the PPRP in this power game may not be best for the country. The prime minister will do the country a great service if he upholds true democracy and accepts a strong check and balances mechanism that can ensure accountability and give power back to the people, as King Rama VII wanted.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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