The cabinet has approved a sweeping transfer of some powers from ministers to the prime minister to improve the efficiency of handling the Covid-19 situation.
The announcement, which took effect on Tuesday, was published in the Royal Gazette on the same day.
It was issued by the power granted the prime minister under the emergency situation in effect since March 26, 2020.
Under the announcement, the prime minister may allow, approve, order, enforce or command any acts; help in preventing, solving, suppressing and mitigating an emergency situation, or help people.
The mandate was normally given to ministers under 31 laws dated back as long as 55 years.
The laws are:
- Communicable Disease Act (2015)
- Drugs Act (1967)
- National Vaccine Security Act (2018)
- Navigation in the Thai Waters Act (1913)
- Air Navigation Act (1954)
- Development of Digitality for Economy and Society Act (2017)
- Emergency Medicine Act (2008)
- Cyber Security Maintenance Act (2019)
- Public Health Act (1992)
- Immigration Act (1979)
- Fuel Control Act (1999)
- Commodities Control Act (1952)
- Arms Control Act (1987)
- Medical Devices Act (2008)
- Road Traffic Act (1979)
- Defence Ministry Administration Act (2008)
- Pathogens and Animal Toxins Act (2015)
- Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Act (2007)
- Social Security Act (1990)
- Vehicles Act (1979)
- Military Service Act (1954)
- Hazardous Substance Act (1992)
- Act on Commission of Offences Relating to Computer (2007)
- Act on Electronic Transactions (2001)
- Prices of Goods and Services Act (1999)
- Places of Entertainment Act (1966)
- Medical Facilities Act (1998)
- Health Business Establishments Act (2016)
- National Health Security Act (2002)
- Government Pharmaceuticals Organization Act (1966)
- Food Act (1979)
The move will likely be viewed as an attempt to consolidate power by Gen Prayut while sidelining elected representatives of people in helping solve the problems.
On Monday, Supachai Jaisamut, a Bhumjaithai Party list MP, criticised Gen Prayut for being so accustomed to having special powers.
In his Facebook post, he pointed out that the structure of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration has limited the roles of politicians, including cabinet ministers.
“The unit that sits at the head of the CCSA table is the National Security Council instead of the Public Health Ministry. That’s why we’re viewing the disease as a threat to security, an enemy of the state. This is a different approach previous governments had used in handling disease outbreaks, such as the bird’s flu and 2009 flu, which proved to be successful,” he said.
Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul is the public health minister.