Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has put his special powers to good use one last time by lifting media bans and transferring all cases involving offences against his orders to civilian courts, ending the military rule which has been a subject of much criticism at home and abroad for the past five years.
The court case and jurisdiction transfers are part of a sweeping order, expected to be his last, to repeal 66 of some 460 orders and announcements he has issued since the 2014 military coup.
With the cabinet list headed by him expected to be royally approved any minute now, the strongman who has held the country by his firm grip after the 2014 military coup for half a decade will continue to rule it for another four years, minus the special powers that grant him immunity for his actions in the past, present and future.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will be constitutionally dissolved when the new cabinet is sworn in.
The Royal Gazette published on Tuesday evening the No.9/2562 order of the NCPO chief.
“The NCPO issued announcements and orders to facilitate administration and national reform and to promote unity and reconciliation among people. Now that the implementation of some of them have been completed, they no longer serve a purpose,” reads the order.
For one thing, the order repeals announcements and orders by the NCPO and its chief putting some types of offences under the military court’s jurisdiction.
“All offences under the NCPO orders, whether committed before or after this order takes effect, will be in the jurisdiction of the courts of justice. The cases being tried by the military court will also be transferred to the courts of justice,” it reads.
Other orders repealed are those involving measures to solve illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing problems, appointments of some boards, additional positions to accommodate NCPO officials.
It also sets up a new office called the Prime Minister’s Policy Management Office under the Secretariat of the Prime Minister to support his missions.
However, opposition members and critics have pointed out some of these orders have been enshrined in the new Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) law.
For instance, they say the restructured ISOC can summon and detain people for questioning without a warrant for several days if there is ground for suspicion, just like the NCPO did under Section 44 orders.
The media bans of some sorts have also been integrated into the amended computer crime law passed by the now-defunct National Legislative Assembly appointed by the NCPO, they say.