Pundits slam PM's political roadmap

Pundits slam PM's political roadmap

call to cement election date

SHARING THEIR THOUGHTS: Anutin Charnvirakul, right, talks to Sudarat Keyuraphan at yesterday's seminar at the Thai Journalists Association.
SHARING THEIR THOUGHTS: Anutin Charnvirakul, right, talks to Sudarat Keyuraphan at yesterday's seminar at the Thai Journalists Association.

Key politicians and academics have criticised the political roadmap of the government and military regime, and they demanded a clear answer as to whether an election will take place next year.

Pheu Thai Party key member Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, Bhumjaithai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul, Democrat Party deputy leader Ong-art Klampaiboon and Thammasat University's vice-rector and legal expert Prinya Thaewanarumitkul participated in the seminar on the political roadmap and the election held at the Thai Journalists Association on Saturday.

Mr Ong-art said the prime minister and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief Prayut Chan-o-cha might still not be able to tell when the election will happen.

"Each time that he responds to this question, it leads to confusion," he said.

However, if relevant organic laws are passed smoothly, an election can occur about November next year.

The drafts of the organic laws on the MPs and senators, the major laws relevant to the election, have not been completed. Charter drafter chief Meechai Ruchupan called for special meetings on the matter over the weekend.

Khunying Sudarat said the government has many times postponed the expected schedule for the election. Whether the election can happen according to the roadmap would depend on the passing of relevant organic laws.

However, she asked the government and the NCPO to announce whether they would stay for a long time.

"The difficulties might not be the concerns of political parties, but we must ask the people which one is more problematic: with or without an election," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Anutin said it does not only depend on the government and the NCPO to decide when to have the election.

"It also depends on the people. If they all want an election, nobody can stop them," he said.

Although the NCPO wants to prolong the government's power, it can do so for only a period of time, but not for too long, he added.

Mr Anutin said that in only nine months the NCPO will reach its fourth anniversary, the same period as a term of an elected government.

Unless the people are satisfied with its work, there will be signals to say they should step down, he said.

Meanwhile, failure to complete the organic laws would also reflect the government's efficiency, he said.

An election should happen in 2019 at the latest, otherwise severe problems might occur, Mr Anutin said, adding that he believed Gen Prayut would keep his promise as he must also face the pressure of responsibility too.

Mr Prinya said the election could take place in September 2018 at the soonest, according to the constitution's time frame for the drafting of the organic laws.

"It's interesting as the constitution does not say what to do in case any relevant organic law is not passed according to the timeline," he said. "Therefore, if the NCPO wants to prolong its power, it can stay. The process to pass a new law will need at least about a year to complete," he said, adding that the final say will be up to the people.

"If the people want an election, they will start comparing the current government with previously elected governments."

He said that since the 1973 uprising no military government has stayed longer than two years except the current one.

"However, faith in democracy must be revived and politicians must agree to solve problems in the parliament," he said, referring to the many street protests during Thailand's decade-long political turmoil.

Mr Prinya said there are two factors that will allow the NCPO to prolong its power.

When people think that the same old political problems will come back after an election, inside and outside parliament, they may prefer to stay under the current government, he said.

The other factor is that people have lacked faith in politicians running in the electoral system.

"Over the past 10 years, the political conflicts were too much and faith in politicians has not been regained," Mr Prinya said.

"I would like to propose that the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties together announce an agreement not to allow such turmoil as what happened before May 22 [2014] any more," he said, adding that he believes an election can take place next year.

Mr Prinya said he believes no party will win a majority or 376 seats in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, as 500 MPs would come from the election, and 250 senators would represent the NCPO in the first five years, both the NCPO and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra should both compromise.

Thaksin should let go of the Pheu Thai Party while the NCPO should also set free the senators and allow them to vote independently, Mr Prinya said.

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