Somsak labels political 'reset' plans regime ploy

Somsak labels political 'reset' plans regime ploy

NCPO to set up party, says yellow shirt chief

Activist Somsak Kosaisuk, a core member of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and participant (above) in the 2013-14 Bangkok Shutdown, says attempts to organise a military-backed political power are doomed to failure. (Bangkok Post file photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)
Activist Somsak Kosaisuk, a core member of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and participant (above) in the 2013-14 Bangkok Shutdown, says attempts to organise a military-backed political power are doomed to failure. (Bangkok Post file photo by Panumas Sanguanwong)

A "military party" will not work, Somsak Kosaisuk, a former leader of the yellow shirt movement, warned Sunday, after a former Democrat MP linked the proposal to reset parties to a plot to set up a new party in support of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

He said military-backed parties of the past, including the Manangkasila and Samakkhitham parties, had failed because the people did not accept them. Thai Rak Thai, which merged a lot of parties together, also failed.

"The military parties of the past taught people a lesson. It's hard to predict, though, as nowadays we have freedom in social media. People's thinking cannot be so easily manipulated now," he said.

Former Democrat Party MP Watchara Phetthong had earlier asked politicians to stand against the proposal to disband ("reset") political parties and make them start again.

He told the media Sunday there was an ongoing plot to form a military party which will support Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak as party leader while the name of the party will include the word Pracharath, the government's public-private collaboration, he said.

He also hinted that a key conspirator was a former kamnan from the south who is continuing to support Gen Prayut in this mission.

"Gen Prayut should follow the example of Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, who said 'that's enough' when he was invited by parties to take the premier's post once again. Gen Prayut has wielded the highest power, under Section 44 [of the interim charter], which even surpasses the 2017 constitution. He should choose to step down gracefully so people can praise him as they did when he took the post," the former Democrat MP said. Mr Somsak said he had been aware of such a plot for a while but was not sure of the details.

Last week, former People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban and Paiboon Nititawan, head of the People's Network for Reform, called on the NLA to amend the organic law governing parties to ensure fairness to all parties.

It was the PDRC's protest against the Pheu Thai government which led to the NCPO's military coup in May 22, 2014.

The calls have drawn flak from critics who suspect they are a political ruse aimed at delaying the general election and prolonging the regime's hold on power. The calls also come amid a growing clamour from parties for the NCPO to lift the ban on political activities.

Also last week, veteran politician Somsak Thepsuthin said MP candidates should be allowed to run as independents so that they do not have to come from a political party.

Former Pheu Thai Party deputy secretary-general Chavalit Wichayasuthi said there should be no reset as those who are already members of a party had not done anything wrong.

Only new parties should start from zero, just as the older parties had done in the past.

He also urged the Constitution Drafting Committee to uphold the organic law governing parties, promulgated in October, saying it was only the NCPO chief's invocation of Section 44 which was preventing the law from being fully effective, rather than any flaws in the law itself.

Mr Chavalit then asked the government to lift the ban of political activities so the Thai political system could begin to re-emerge under the stipulations of the law.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Friday the organic law on political parties can be amended using Section 44 or the normal legislative procedure via the NLA but the government cannot initiate a process to change the law.

However, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) second vice-president Peerasak Porjit said on Saturday the NLA is unlikely to initiate any amendments.


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