Prayut rules out earlier polling date

Prayut rules out earlier polling date

A polling unit at Wat Sri Iam is quiet on Feb 2, 2014. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
A polling unit at Wat Sri Iam is quiet on Feb 2, 2014. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Thailand is highly unlikely to see a general election before July 2017 as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says he is committed to the timeline set to bring the country back to the polls.

The former army chief made his position clear in his weekly Returning Happiness to Thai People broadcast on Friday night, during which he also pledged transparency in fresh efforts to speed up megaprojects.

"I will stand by the 6-4-6-4 formula to general elections as I have mentioned before," he said. "There are a number of things that need to be done in the national administration and in tending to remaining urgent matters."

The formula, disclosed shortly before the first draft constitution was thrown out by the now-defunct National Reform Committee in September, gives a new set of drafters six months to work on a new draft and another four months to hold a referendum. Then the National Legislative Assembly will spend six months passing organic laws related to new polls, leaving the last four months for an election campaign.

Under that timetable, new polls would be held around July 2017, three years and two months after Gen Prayut took over the administration of the country following a military coup against the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The military government has been pursuing an ambitious reform agenda amid calls from many foreign countries, mostly in the West, to quickly restore democracy and make way for new elections.

Glyn Davies, the new US ambassador to Thailand. told Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in a meeting on Oct 15 that while Washington pledged closer cooperation, it remained firm on its political position.

"We [the US] hope Thailand will continue to rapidly restore democracy and an elected civilian government," Mr Davies said after the talks.

While 21 charter writers are busy working on a yet another constitution, the government is struggling to kick-start an economy that has been hurt by a variety of factors, both internal and external. It is making a huge bet on infrastructure investment to get economic activity and investment moving again.

Its latest initiative is to cut red tape for eight projects under the public-private partnership programme,  or the PPP fast track, which the cabinet approved last Tuesday.

The prime minister on Friday dismissed concerns about possible collusion, corruption and conflicts of interest in such arrangements between gthe government and businesses.

"In order to ensure transparency and fairness, the PPP fast track will not include time spent auditing and selecting applicants," he said. "These procedures must be in accordance with the Private Participation in State Undertaking Act."

The projects to benefit from the short-cut policy include three mass-transit routes — the Pink Line from Khae Rai to Min Buri, the Yellow Line from Lat Phrao to Samrong and the extended Blue Line from Bang Sue to Tha Phra — a waste disposal plant in Nonthaburi province and another one in Nakhon Ratchasima.


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