PM to review S44 orders, search for 'Thai democracy'

PM to review S44 orders, search for 'Thai democracy'

Makes clearer call for Thai-style democracy

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha offers a gift to his former instructor at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, Gen Boonsrang Niumpradit, in a show of respect to mark Teacher's Day on Tuesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha offers a gift to his former instructor at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, Gen Boonsrang Niumpradit, in a show of respect to mark Teacher's Day on Tuesday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed Tuesday to look into a civic network's call to annul 35 orders and announcements issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) that allegedly violate the rights of the public and infringe on the judicial process.

"We have to see which ones they want to abolish," Gen Prayut said, referring to a claim that many orders favour certain groups.

In a separate move, the prime minister named eight former ministers as 'advisers' after they failed to make the cut for the current Prayut 5 cabinet.

The civil society network on Monday pointed to many incidents that have raised questions about infringed rights after some NCPO orders took effect.

One is Gen Prayut's use of the all-powerful Section 44 of the interim charter to allow the private sector to use land under the Agricultural Land Reform Office that was originally designated to create jobs for low-income people.

Activists monitoring its enforcement found poor farmers bore the brunt of the order, leaving them at a huge disadvantage.

The prime minister said the network's claim needs to be considered carefully before a decision is made on who has gained or lost as a result of the orders and announcements.

It is important to determine the intentions behind the issuance, he said.

The network, led by iLaw director Jon Ungpakorn, is pushing ahead with its demand as the government plans to ask the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) to legislate most of the NCPO orders into laws so they remain in effect after the NCPO is dissolved after a general election due in November.

ILaw claims that 35 articles limit the public or media's freedom of expression and/or infringe on the judicial process.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the orders issued under Section 44 were aimed to quickly solve problems relating to security, the economy and national reform.

But they have never been issued to intervene in judicial affairs, he said.

As the debate continues, the Council of State, the government's advisory body, has begun its work to compile and categorise all NCPO orders and announcements under Section 44 before they will be considered by the NLA.

The network is gathering at least 10,000 signatures to back its demand for the annulment. Mr Jon said it will submit these to the House of Representatives after the general election.

Gen Prayut also clarified his opinion yesterday that Thailand needs "Thai-ism democracy" after critics said this may not align with the democratic principles respected by the international community.

The premier's idea was unveiled when he gave a speech to mark Children's Day on Saturday.

By saying Thai niyom, or Thai-ism, he meant the country needs to search for a kind of democracy that best matches the needs of Thai people, he said yesterday on national Teacher's Day.

Many Thai people appear to act like "artists" with a strong emotional drive, Gen Prayut observed. It is therefore important to consider democracy, which originated in Western countries, in this cultural context, he said.

Gen Prayut said he would not encourage people to ignore democratic principles but Thailand does not necessarily have to follow in others' footsteps.

Thai society must respect the true spirit of democracy which supports elections and good governance, he said.

"But we have to search for a 'democracy' that can be understood by all [political] camps so they will share a common ideology to secure our nation," he said.

The Prime Minister said the eight new "advisers" on his staff were qualified, due to their familiarity with national administration and the country's affairs, a government statement said.

Gen Prayut said he wants them to help publicise the government's work and achievements. "They have a strong understanding of the problems [Thailand faces]," Gen Prayut said. "Their job is to provide support for the government and for the prime minister."

The advisory group comprises Gen Tanasak Patimapragorn, the former foreign minister and former deputy prime minister; Adm Narong Pipatanasai, who previously served as deputy prime minister; and Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, the former deputy defence minister. Gen Tanasak will chair the advisory panel.

Other names on the list include Ormsin Chivapruck, a minister formerly attached to the Prime Minister's Office; Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, who served earlier as the minister for tourism and sports; and Pichit Akrathit, the ex-deputy minister for transport. Apiradi Tantaporn, the former commerce minister, and Atchaka Sibunruang, who relinquishes his role as industry minister, round out the group.


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