Prayut makes light of alleged oath gaffe

Prayut makes light of alleged oath gaffe

Future Forward Party vows to pursue issue in parliament

Cabinet ministers swear an oath before Their Majesties at the Dusit Palace on July 16. (Photo taken from TV Pool)
Cabinet ministers swear an oath before Their Majesties at the Dusit Palace on July 16. (Photo taken from TV Pool)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday shrugged off the opposition's move to hold him to account over an alleged incomplete oath of allegiance, saying the swearing-in ceremony was complete and finished with.

He was responding to growing criticism over an alleged failure to recite the full text of the oath during the cabinet's swearing-in ceremony.

Critics claim the prime minister did not vow to protect and abide by the constitution, which is the final paragraph in Section 161 of the charter. This could render his cabinet illegitimate and unable to perform its duty, they say.

Section 161 prescribes: "Before assuming duties, cabinet ministers must swear an oath to His Majesty the King as follows:

'I (name of minister) swear I will be loyal to His Majesty and perform my duties honestly for the benefits of the country and the people. I will also uphold and comply with the constitution of the kingdom in every aspect'."

However, a video clip on the oath-taking showed Gen Prayut, reading from a note in his hand, and the ministers who repeated the oath after him, left out the last sentence and added "forever" as the last word.

In effect, the oath they took was: "I (name of minister) swear I will be loyal to His Majesty and perform my duties honestly for the benefits of the country and the people forever."

But Gen Prayut insisted on Monday the oath was in compliance with the charter and, most importantly, in line with His Majesty the King's advice that the government stay committed to serving the country and the people.

The prime minister also urged his critics not to blow the issue out of proportion and said he was not concerned whether the opposition would file a no-confidence debate against him over the matter.

"The argument is all about the charter which provides a broad framework and is not enough to get all the work done. The mechanisms that drive the country are tens of thousands of laws and regulations," he said. 

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam warned last week the issue should not have been raised and had no further explanations on the issue. 

Future Forward Party secretary-general and list-MP Piyabutr Saengkanokkul yesterday said the opposition would raise the issue before the House of Representatives and force the prime minister to clarify.

He said the opposition is concerned about the government's blunder and wants the prime minister to correct it to avoid further complications.

"If the government sits on it, the issue will have to be settled by an independent public agency. What if other state agencies also do not deliver a complete oath? What if someone wants a cabinet resolution void because of the prime minister's incomplete oath?" he said.

Seri Ruamthai Party leader Pol Gen Sereepisuth Temeeyaves on Monday called on Gen Prayut and the cabinet ministers to seek a royal pardon and correct the mistake. 

According to Pol Gen Sereepisuth, the government must suspend its work and cannot carry out its job until it makes the issue right.

Senator Seree Suwanpanon on Monday defended the government's legitimacy, saying the swearing-in ceremony was completed as required by the charter. 

However, he said the issue could be forwarded to the Constitutional Court for review if critics still have questions.

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