Military tightens NLA grip

The military regime has strengthened its hold on the administration of the country by picking 28 military and police generals in the new intake of members for the National Legislative Assembly, which has had its number increased to 250.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has submitted a total of 33 names, all men, for royal approval, of whom five are civilians, sources said.

The 2014 interim constitution was recently amended to allow for the NLA to be enlarged to 250 members from 220, effective from Sept 2.

Gen Prayut had cited the large number of bills to be deliberated as the reason for the increase.

The junta appointed 200 NLA members after the coup in May 2014. Twelve subsequently resigned and 31 more were added. After that, two died, leaving 217 before the latest appointments took the total to 250.

Of the 28 new members holding a rank, most are officers promoted to key positions in the latest military shuffle. Among them are Gen Somsak Nilbunjerdkul, assistant army chief; ACM Sutthipong Inseewong, assistant air force chief; and Luechai Ruddit, navy chief of staff and brother of former assistant army chief Kampanart Ruddit.

The five civilians are Chen Numchaisiri, new chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries; Vittaya Phiewpong, a former Ayutthaya governor and deputy agriculture minister; Preedee Daochai, a senior executive vice-president of Kasikornbank; Suchart Trakulkasemsuk, a Court of Appeal judge; and Charoensak Silakij, chairman of Kasetsart University's Officials Council and a former national reform councillor.

NLA members do not receive salaries. Instead, they are paid a position allowance of 71,230 baht and an extra allowance of 42,330 a month, totalling 113,560 baht. Members appointed to NLA committees receive 1,500 baht for each meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said two years ago that a state official may not receive salaries from more than one source but could be paid unlimited position allowances and other compensation as long as the payments are not called a salary.

Each NLA member can hire up to three experts and assistants, who are each paid 15,000 to 24,000 baht a month.

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