Experts offer oath fixes

Experts offer oath fixes

Prayut advised to seek royal pardon

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday quells speculation he would quit over his failure to recite the full oath of office. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday quells speculation he would quit over his failure to recite the full oath of office. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Academics have proposed several ways for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to correct his oath-taking gaffe, including seeking a royal pardon and waiting for a Constitutional Court ruling.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayut sought on Friday to quell speculation he would quit over his failure to recite the full oath of office, insisting he would remain in charge as prime minister.

Jade Donavanik, former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee, said the prime minister should seek a royal pardon and ask for His Majesty's advice on whether the cabinet might be permitted to repeat the oath-taking before the King.

The government should also wait for the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter, Mr Jade added.

If the court ruled that the oath-taking was conducted incorrectly, procedures that followed, including the government policy statement in parliament, may have to go back to square one, he said.

But if the court decides that the oath-taking is correct, yet incomplete, this would not affect the procedures, Mr Jade said.

Wanwichit Boonprong, a political scientist from Rangsit University, suggested that Gen Prayut should opt for a royal solution to remedy the mistake. The prime minister and his cabinet should seek an audience with the King and ask for a royal pardon, he said.

He proposed that the prime minister could ease growing public pressure by publicly admitting to the mistake and offering an apology. Mr Wanwichit added that the oath-taking involved legal technicalities and was now becoming political, which could damage the government's stability.

The government must act to prevent the issue from being blown out of proportion, he said, adding that the best solution was to wait for a ruling from the Constitutional Court, which would lay the problem to rest.

The prime minister's resignation or a House dissolution as solutions will not be acceptable to the public because it will be wasteful of time spent on the formation of the government, Mr Wanwichit said.

Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, echoed the view that the matter should be decided by the Constitutional Court.

He said the constitution does not specify a course of action in such matters, hence the court's ruling would set a legal precedent.

Without a decision from the court, questions would remain over the government's legitimacy, Mr Yuttaporn said, adding that the issue may be raised by critics to invalidate the government's decisions on important projects in the future.

Future Forward Party secretary-general and list-MP Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said yesterday that when he tried to raise the oath issue during the parliamentary debate on government policy, Gen Prayut brushed it aside and pressed ahead with the government statement.

Mr Piyabutr said Gen Prayut must resolve the problem by leading his cabinet in another oath-taking in the presence of His Majesty the King.

If he failed to do so, government work which has already started, including approval of a budget bill for deliberation by the House two weeks ago, may be invalidated, Mr Piyabutr said.

Gen Prayut yesterday insisted that he remains in charge as head of the government. "I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere," he said at Ha Yaek Lat Phrao skytrain station, where he presided over the opening of a BTS test run to Mo Chit station.

Speculation he might resign was rife after the premier on Thursday apologised to cabinet ministers for reciting an incomplete oath of office during the cabinet swearing-in ceremony last month.

He told cabinet ministers, senior officials and state enterprise executives at the Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi on Thursday that he would take "sole responsibility'' for the matter. Gen Prayut had said earlier that the gaffe was unintentional.

The Office of the Ombudsman decided on Tuesday to examine the legitimacy of the oath, in response to a petition submitted by political activist Srisuwan Janya.

The activist asked the Ombudsman to forward the issue to the Constitutional Court or the Administrative Court for a ruling on the legitimacy of the government as a result of the incomplete oath.

Mr Srisuwan filed his complaint on Monday, alleging that Gen Prayut may have violated Section 161 of the constitution. Gen Prayut omitted to the recite the final sentence, containing the vow to uphold and abide by the constitution, which is required by the final paragraph of the section.

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