Charter expert: Rejecting Pita's renomination unconstitutional
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Charter expert: Rejecting Pita's renomination unconstitutional

Former charter drafter Borwornsak Uwanno says Constitutional Court should be asked to rule

Opposition politicians should “do the right thing” and accept that parliamentary regulations do not trump the constitution, says former charter drafting chairman Borwornsak Uwanno. (File photo)
Opposition politicians should “do the right thing” and accept that parliamentary regulations do not trump the constitution, says former charter drafting chairman Borwornsak Uwanno. (File photo)

Former charter drafting chairman Borwornsak Uwanno says parliament’s resolution on Wednesday to reject the renomination of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat for prime minister was unconstitutional.

The legal expert said he hoped that someone would petition the Constitutional Court to issue a timely ruling

“Invoking a parliamentary session regulation has crippled the constitution despite the fact that the charter specifically stipulates the prime ministerial election. It’s a pity for Thailand,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.

Mr Borwornsak, former chairman of the now-defunct Constitution Drafting Committee, said he was disappointed with MPs who voted against Mr Pita’s renomination.

“Although you are in the opposition, you should be aware of when to do away with being in the opposition to do the right thing,” he wrote.

He noted that parliament’s interpretation was not final. Any person who thought his or her right was affected could petition the Ombudsman that the parliamentary resolution, which was a legislative action, went against Section 213 of the constitution. Unless the Ombudsman submitted the petition to the Constitutional Court for a ruling, the affected person could directly petition the court.

“I will wait and see if parliament’s action violated the constitution,” the professor of constitutional law wrote.

“I will see how the Constitutional Court will rule on this. I have been teaching constitutional law for 30 years. Now I have to reconsider whether I will continue teaching.”

His post was widely viewed online with 8,100 shares as of 4pm on Thursday.

Mr Borwornsak’s comments came after the joint House and Senate sitting voted on Wednesday to reject the nomination of Mr Pita on the grounds that parliamentary session regulation No.41 prohibited the resubmission of a failed motion during the same parliamentary session. 

Parliament president Wan Muhamad Noor Matha made the announcement after 715 parliamentarians voted electronically about 5.10pm. A total of 394 parliamentarians, most of them unelected senators, voted against Mr Pita’s renomination, 312 voted to support it, eight abstained and one did not exercise the right to vote.

On Tuesday, Mr Pita admitted he was worried that any attempts to use parliamentary procedure to block him from being nominated a second time would affect the entire system because it would be politically binding and that may affect other parties. From now on, every prime ministerial candidate would have only one shot at securing a majority vote.

The Move Forward Party said on Thursday that it believed it had a legal case to renominate Mr Pita for the next vote on July 27. 

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, an outspoken former election commissioner, also took to Facebook on Thursday to illustrate how parliament’s interpretation of the one-and-done rule could be followed to its logical conclusion:

“If a person can only be nominated for the prime minister’s post once, I propose that in the next session, the opposing side might as well nominate Prawit, Anutin, Prayut, Jurin and others until their votes are divided, making all the candidates fail,” he wrote.

“These individuals would not be eligible to become a prime minister. They’ll be extinct.”

Former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn also took aim at parliament’s one-and-done rule interpretation. (Bangkok Post File Photo)

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