New Palang Dhamma Party backs Prayut

New Palang Dhamma Party backs Prayut

Could support him as an 'outsider PM'

Members of the New Palang Dhamma ('Power of Dhamma') Party (NPDP) raise hands at a news conference called to unveil the pro-military party. The NPDP's core is the former Palang Dhamma Party of yellow shirt founder Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang. The original Palang Dhamma was dissolved a decade ago. (Photo by Pornprom Sarttrabhaya)
Members of the New Palang Dhamma ('Power of Dhamma') Party (NPDP) raise hands at a news conference called to unveil the pro-military party. The NPDP's core is the former Palang Dhamma Party of yellow shirt founder Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang. The original Palang Dhamma was dissolved a decade ago. (Photo by Pornprom Sarttrabhaya)

The New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP) was inaugurated Thursday, buoyed by remarks it may support Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha if he bids to become an unelected, outside premier.

Speaking at its launch ceremony, Ravee Machamadol, the party leader, said his party is ready to throw its support behind Gen Prayut to lead the next government if the Lower House fails to reach a consensus on a replacement for him.

Dr Ravee said his party has a list of potential prime ministerial candidates, including himself. He refused to divulge the others.

"I can ensure the NPDP will only support a 'good guy' to run the government. Of course, we will support our own people first. But in the event of some kind of disagreement we would have no problem considering suitable outsiders," he said.

When asked whether the NPDP would welcome Gen Prayut in this role, Dr Ravee said that if the premier was a good and moral person there would no better candidate.

"But I think it's still too soon to talk about this issue because we still don't know if Gen Prayut would allow any party to put his name [on its] list," he said.

Dr Ravee said the NPDP does not plan to support any particular figure who may bid to serve as prime minister.

Rather, the party was formed to follow the reformist will of the old Palang Dhamma Party, which was dissolved a decade ago.

He said the majority of NPDP members are former members of that now-defunct party combined with some ex-members of the New Aspiration Party, Democrat Party, People's Alliance for Democracy and Thai Social Democratic Party.

Dr Ravee said the NPDP on Wednesday also asked Maj Gen Chamlong Srimuang, founder and ex-leader of the old Palang Dhamma Party, to be their adviser but Maj Gen Chamlong declined the offer.

Maj Gen Chamlong said he was too old to serve as an adviser, has health problems, and can't work effectively any more, according to Dr Ravee.

The NPDP has informed the Election Commission (EC) of its intention to form a new party and said it plans to register its name and symbol with the EC today.

"We are recruiting 500 party members to meet the official requirement. We expect to reach that target by April," Dr Ravee said.

According to Section 88 of the constitution, before general election campaigns begin, every party must promote up to three prime ministerial candidates to the EC. The EC will then declare the list of all candidates to the public before elections begin.

But Section 272 in the problematic Provisional Section states that in the event the lower house cannot reach a consensus on who should be prime minister according to the list of candidates, Section 88 can be exempted if at least half of the MPs petition the National Assembly (the Senate combined with the Lower House). MPs can then promote someone else as prime minister.

In other words, Section 272 opens a channel for an "outsider" PM to take office.


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