NACC no-reset law faces legal challenge

NACC no-reset law faces legal challenge

Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), has already been criticised over his close tries to both accused watch owner Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and to Gen Prawit's allegedly unusually wealthy brother, former police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan. (File photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), has already been criticised over his close tries to both accused watch owner Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and to Gen Prawit's allegedly unusually wealthy brother, former police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan. (File photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The controversial approval of legislation allowing all nine members of National Anti-Corruption Commission to remain in office is likely to be challenged in the Constitutional Court by disgruntled members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

NLA member Thawisak Sutkawathin said Wednesday he expected enough colleagues who disagree with the bill approved by a majority of NLA members to finish signing the petition by the day's end.

This would pave the way for it to be submitted to the court.

They were not going to ask the court for a ruling in their capacity as NLA members who lost during the recent vote on the bill. "This will be a petition from the NLA itself," Mr Thawisak said.

According to the regulations, this requires that at least 10% of the 250 NLA members sign the petition.

The group disagrees with Section 178 of the legislation, which concerns the qualifications of members of the anti-corruption agency. The current NACC panel will not be "reset" despite arguments that the qualifications of some members fall short of those set down in the 2017 constitution.

The new charter bans commissioners from having served in a political position.

Charnchai Issarasenarak, a former Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Nayok, said the petition which the NLA members were planning to file with the court "was the right thing to do".

He predicted many legal ramifications would follow if the issue was not resolved by the court.

The lawmakers who voted to pass the organic law risk facing legal action if the law was allowed to take effect without being interpreted by the court.

Mr Charnchai said he could not believe many NLA members favoured the organic law which made exceptions for the qualifications of the NACC members in defiance of the constitution.

He said it was tantamount to attaching greater importance to the organic law than the charter.

Mr Charnchai added that it appears as though legislative principles have been thrown out the window.

"If we want peace and unity in this country, we must call a spade a spade," he said.

Also Wednesday, United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) secretary-general Nattawut Saikuar said lawmakers were doing the people a disservice by passing the organic law without a single motion being raised in the NLA to debate its downsides.

"No one [in the NLA] said a single word to question the law," Mr Nattawut said.

In fact, he said the NLA voted to pass the law to extend the tenure of the nine NACC members despite the charter potentially being contravened.

Earlier this week, Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Thai Constitution Protection Association urged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to ask the charter court to decide if the law was constitutional.

He said a section in the organic law in permits members of the NACC to stay on even if their qualifications fall short as stipulated in the charter.


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