Oath 'fix' tipped for today
Govt House event has message from King
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is due to lead the cabinet in receiving a message from His Majesty the King at Government House on Tuesday, in an event believed to be linked with the recent controversy over the swearing-in of the cabinet, according to an internal formal schedule circulated on Monday.
The itinerary obtained by the media states that His Majesty the King has issued a written message together with his signature for Gen Prayut and the cabinet ministers, which will be read out at Government House today.
In the schedule, mention was made of the previous cabinet swearing-in ceremony which took place at Ambara Villa at Dusit Palace on July 16.
According to the document, cabinet ministers are to assemble at 8.45am in a room on the fifth floor of Government House's command building.
At 9am, Gen Prayut will present ceremonial offerings before the portrait of His Majesty the King. The King's message will be placed on a tray to be received by the prime minister who will then lead cabinet members in giving statements in reply after its reading.
Gen Prayut, meanwhile, declined to comment on today's ceremony. "If I spoke about it, it would take away all the excitement," the premier said.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam explained that today's ceremony is not a re-swearing of the oath by Gen Prayut and his cabinet.
"Anyone who considers this to be a re-taking of the oath is only giving their opinion.
But I will play no part in that," he said.
However, Mr Wissanu admitted that the ceremony is unprecedented, and stopped short of answering the question of whether the ceremony will make the upcoming parliamentary debate on the oath gaffe redundant.
The exceptional event being held on Tuesday comes after Gen Prayut found himself in hot water for failing to recite the final sentence of Section 161 of the charter, which requires the oath-taker to uphold and abide by the constitution, in the previous oath-taking ceremony which was presided over by His Majesty the King.
Early on Monday, a group of lawyers led by former vice-rector of Ramkhamhaeng University Wiwatchai Kulmat submitted a petition to the Office of the Ombudsman asking the agency to also probe state officials responsible for the oath-taking process.
Mr Wiwatchai said the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat should be asked to clarify the issue since the office was in charge of making preparations for the oath-taking.
Kamoltham Wasboonma, deputy secretary-general of the Office of the Ombudsman, said the petition might be initially reviewed on Tuesday.
Mr Kamoltham added that the Ombudsman would also rule on a petition submitted by political activist Srisuwan Janya who wanted the matter forwarded to the Constitutional Court or the Administrative Court.
In his complaint, Mr Srisuwan maintained no word in the oath may be omitted and alleged that Gen Prayut may have violated the constitution by leaving out the important paragraph.
Critics and the opposition have warned the statuses of Gen Prayut as prime minister and his cabinet ministers are now in limbo and the orders and regulations which they have approved since taking office face the risk of being declared invalid.
In recent weeks, the seven-party opposition has been seeking to grill the prime minister in a general debate after Gen Prayut twice failed to answer their questions in the House.
The motion was signed by 214 opposition MPs and lodged with House Speaker Chuan Leekpai under Section 152 of the constitution. The section allows the House to question and make proposals to cabinet ministers, without taking a vote.