Monday, July 17, 2023

Thailand - Will the peoples' will expressed in elections be barred by 'military appointed' Senators? Prime Minister??

Thailand had its Parliamentary elections on , to elect 400 area MPs, and 100 party list MPs. [What is Party List - Well, votes of all losing candidates at every constituency is collated according to party, and then the 100 party list seats are given according to votes garnered by parties - a GOOD way to allow parties who may have lost the first past the post fight at constituencies, but secured significant votes - then they may enter as party list MPs]

After the Elections,  Move Forward had the most seats, 151, followed by Pheu Thai, 141.  A coalition was formed with several parties and now they have 313 MPs.

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said at a news conference that the proposed coalition would have a total of 313 seats in the House of Representatives, a solid majority of its 500 members.

In Malaysia, to be a Prime Minister - if there is 500 MPs, all that is needed is to get the support of 251 or more MPs.

In Thailand, after the military coup, the Constitution was amended - and now to be Prime Minister, you need to get the majority of the 500 MPs PLUS 250 'appointed' Senators. There are no elections for the Senate – all 250 Senators are appointed by the Royal Thai Military.

But under Thailand's Constitution, drafted under military rule after a 2014 coup, the lower house and the 250-seat Senate must vote together to select a new prime minister. All of the senators were appointed by the military junta that took power after the coup.
250 'appointed by military Senators' have the capacity in undermining the will of the people in Thailand, but ultimately some will do and some will follow the will of the people as expressed in the General Elections. People voted for the Move Forward Party, and the other parties that formed the coalition that has the support of some 313 MPs - and, what was needed for the Pita, the chosen candidate for Prime Minister by the coalition of parties, was merely the support of about 65 Senators out of the 250. Sadly, only 13 Senators voted for Pita and were seen in support of the Thai peoples' expressed will during the General Elections.

Pita was 51 votes short of the 375 lawmakers he needed to support his candidacy during the first ballot. Just 13 senators voted for him, with many voicing their opposition to MFP's pledge to soften the kingdom's royal defamation laws.

Some Senators allegedly is against Pita and Move Forward because of ' pledge to soften the kingdom's royal defamation laws' - This is not NEW - it was, I believe already part of the pledges or election promises even before the General Elections - and the people voted for them. Who is the Senators to disregard the people of Thailand. In any event, Senators can always oppose any proposed amendments to law when it is tabled in Parliament - so, is this not a premature, possibly prejudiced stance, to oppose because of what may or may not happen. Senators, politically or military appointed, are also citizens of Thailand and they too had a right to vote during the, it would have been better if Senators listen to the voice of the people when it comes to voting in a Prime Minister.

Now, there are talks about removing the Senate - or reforming it back to when the people of Thailand vote for Senators.

Well, in a couple of days, there will be another vote for the Prime Minister of Thailand - and, it is rumored that once again, there will only be 1 canditate - Pita from the Move Forward led coalition... We shall see what happens?

Wonder what happens when thereafter at every vote by Parliament to elect a Prime Minister, the Move Forward led coalition just places one candidate - being Pita?

Will the Senators vote respecting the the Thai voters or what?

POLITICAL Appointment of peoples' representatives should be abolished in favour of democratically elected by the people system...

In Malaysia too, elections of Senators is long OVERDUE - if not, time to consider abolishing the politically appointed Senate. What is the SENATE - it is not simply a mechanism for the Prime Minister to use to appoint a person 'un-elected by the people' as a Senator so that he/she may then appoint into the Cabinet - one example is Malaysia's current Home Minister...


Leader of Thai opposition party that won election announces eight-party coalition plan to take power

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Leader of Move Forward Party Pita Limjaroenrat (rear centre), talks to media after casting his vote during a general election at a polling station in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, May 14, 2023. Voters in Thailand were heading to the polls on Sunday in an election touted as a pivotal chance for change, eight years after incumbent Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha first came to power in a 2014 coup. - AP

BANGKOK, May 21 (AP): The leader of the progressive opposition party that won a stunning victory in Thailand’s national election has said that eight parties have agreed to form a coalition government with him as prime minister, despite fears among supporters that his military-aligned opponents may use the unelected Senate to block them.

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said at a news conference that the proposed coalition would have a total of 313 seats in the House of Representatives, a solid majority of its 500 members.

But under Thailand's Constitution, drafted under military rule after a 2014 coup, the lower house and the 250-seat Senate must vote together to select a new prime minister. All of the senators were appointed by the military junta that took power after the coup.

Because of the joint vote, Sunday’s election victor is not certain to take power.

"The key message of today’s news conference is to assure the public that my coalition is firmly taking shape,” said Pita, a Harvard-educated businessman. "There’s momentum, there’s progress and we also a have very clear roadmap from today until the day I become prime minister."

He said the plans include teams to work out any differences among the parties and to "make sure there is a continuation of power, minimizing risk as well as reducing destabilizing factors that could damage the country or the economy or the financial markets.”

Move Forward’s progressive agenda resonated with a public weary of nine years of military-steered rule under Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the 2014 coup as army chief.

It enjoyed a surge in support before last Sunday’s poll, driving it to become the largest party with 151 seats. Prayuth’s United Thai Nation Party captured only 23 House seats.

Move Forward edged out another opposition party, Pheu Thai, aligned with popular former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in an earlier 2007 military coup.

Pheu Thai leader Cholanan Srikaew pledged unequivocal support for Pita as prime minister and for Move Forward's bid to form a new government.

Young voters were particularly attracted by Move Forward’s policies, including a proposed amendment of Thailand's harsh lese majeste law, under which criticizing the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Critics say the law is frequently misused to punish critics of the government, while conservatives who consider the royal institution sacrosanct strongly oppose any amendment.

All senators voted for Prayuth as prime minister after the last election in 2019, allowing him to remain in office despite a Pheu Thai victory in those polls. Some senators have already said they will not support Pita as prime minister because they oppose any change to the lese majeste law.

The law, known as Article 112, is also a sensitive subject within Pita's coalition.

"I confirm we want to protect the monarchy but also not allow 112 to be used to harm other people," said Sudarat Keyuraphan, leader of the Thai Sang Thai Party and a former public health minister.

She said each party in the coalition has a different stance on the law. "We have to talk about this article, as well as all the other policies,” she said.

Pita said the parties will sign a memorandum of understanding next week to create a common understanding of how they will work together as a government. - AP

'If its for the best' - Pita says he will withdraw from Thai PM race if he loses next vote

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Pita Limjaroenrat failed on Thursday to reach the needed majority to become the country’s next prime minister. - Reuters photo

BANGKOK (AFP): The liberal frontrunner to become Thailand's next prime minister said Saturday he would withdraw his candidacy if parliament did not endorse him next week, after military-appointed lawmakers foiled his first attempt.

Pita Limjaroenrat's Move Forward Party (MFP) won the most seats in May elections, buoyed by young Thais eager for progressive reforms after nine years of army-backed rule in the kingdom.

But the Harvard-educated millionaire's campaign to lead the next government was knocked back Thursday by senators in parliament who consider his pledge to reform strict royal defamation laws a red line.

The legislature holds its second ballot for a new prime minister on Wednesday, and Pita said he would support a candidate from coalition partner Pheu Thai if he again failed to win the needed votes.

"I'd like to apologise that we haven't succeeded," he said in a video address posted to social media.

"I'm ready to give a chance to Thailand by letting the party that has the second most votes... be the one to form the coalition."

Pita was 51 votes short of the 375 lawmakers he needed to support his candidacy during the first ballot.

Just 13 senators voted for him, with many voicing their opposition to MFP's pledge to soften the kingdom's royal defamation laws.

After the first ballot, the party ruled out compromising on its proposed revisions to the laws, which currently allow convicted critics of the monarchy to be jailed for up to 15 years.

- 'Help with this mission' -

All 250 senators were appointed under the junta-drafted constitution, which political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak said was a reliable impediment to MFP's reformist platform.

"It is a way for the authority and the regime to stay in power in the long term and to prevent a pro-democracy government that can stand against them," he told AFP on Friday.

Pita urged his supporters on Saturday to get "creative" in urging senators to throw their support behind him in the next round.

"I alone can't change the senators' mind. Therefore, I ask everybody to help with this mission," he said.

"Send a message to the senators in every way possible, every way you can think of."

The MFP's largest coalition partner Pheu Thai is seen as a vehicle for the Shinawatra political family, whose members include two former prime ministers displaced by military coups in 2006 and 2014.

Property tycoon Srettha Thavisin, 60, is widely tipped to be Pheu Thai's candidate for prime minister if Pita's bid fails again.

Liked by business leaders among Thailand's influential elite, he has been touted as a potential compromise candidate.

- Wave of support -

Pita rode a wave of support that saw voters emphatically reject almost a decade of army-backed rule under Prayut Chan-o-cha, who took power in the 2014 coup.

But the MFP's reformist agenda has drawn strident objections from conservative supporters of the country's establishment.

Thursday's vote on Pita's candidacy came just a day after Thailand's top election body recommended the Constitutional Court suspend Pita as an MP -- providing more fuel for senators already poised to vote against him.

The electoral commission recommended Pita's suspension from parliament over allegations he broke campaign rules.

The recommendation followed a probe into Pita's ownership of shares in a media company, which MPs are prohibited from holding under Thai law.

The station has not broadcast since 2007, and Pita has said the shares were inherited from his father.

The Constitutional Court has also agreed to hear a case alleging that the MFP's position on royal defamation laws is tantamount to a plan to "overthrow" the constitutional monarchy. - AFP - Star, 15/7/2023



Thai election

Thailand parliament opens to elect new PM: 5 things to know

Real test begins for Pita's Move Forward coalition after historic election

Move Forward leader and prime minister candidate Pita Limjaroenrat speaks at a press conference on June 7. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)
BANGKOK -- Thailand's newly elected House of Representatives will begin their session on Monday afternoon, 50 days after the May 14 general election won by the progressive Move Forward Party.

Move Forward placed first in a surprise overtake of Pheu Thai, formerly the biggest party on the pro-democracy side. The two parties have formed a coalition along with six smaller parties, but infighting within the coalition, conservative backlash against Move Forward's policies, and legal and electoral challenges have made for a fraught interregnum.

The crucial prime minister vote will take place as early as next week. With the formation of a Move Forward government still being uncertain, analysts warn of peril for the Thai economy if the political transition is delayed, causing market uncertainty and investment slowdown.

Here's what you need to know:

What events are scheduled first?

King Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the opening of parliament at 5 p.m. in Bangkok on Monday and address the joint House and Senate.

The newly elected members of parliament comprise 400 district representatives and 100 party-list members. Move Forward has the most seats, 151, followed by Pheu Thai, 141.

See also

The first major event comes on Tuesday: The speaker vote. Move Forward and Pheu Thai have been in conflict over the speakership; Pheu Thai wants Move Forward to share power by letting Pheu Thai have the speakership while Move Forward takes the premiership.

Why does the Speaker election matter?

The Speaker of the House and two deputy speakers decide which bills are brought to the floor, setting legislative priorities and maintaining order in the chamber.

The Speaker controls how many times the prime minister vote can be repeated if no one can win a majority in the first round -- a critical consideration for Move Forward leader Pita Limjaroenrat.

When will the prime minister be selected?

The prime minister vote is slated on July 13.

Any party is allowed to nominate candidates for prime minister from the names it submitted to the Election Commission in April. Although each party was allowed three, Move Forward nominated only Pita. Pheu Thai said it would not nominate a challenger to Pita from its three candidates -- Paetongtarn Shinawatra, daughter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra; property tycoon Srettha Thavisin; and former Attorney General Chaikasem Nitisiri.

Conservative parties are expected to nominate Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, whose Bhumjaithai Party finished third in the May 14 elections, and Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan of the Palang Pracharath Party, the outgoing deputy prime minister.

Caretaker Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said, "No, probably not," when asked last week whether he would be nominated.

Will Move Forward leader Pita become prime minister?

To succeed, a prime minister candidate needs at least 376 votes -- a simple majority of 500 representatives and 250 senators.

Move Forward's eight-party coalition has 312 seats and needs 64 more votes for Pita to become prime minister. Some senators and conservative House members could cross the line for Pita, but most conservatives cite two main reasons to vote against the Move Forward leader.

First, Move Forward did not win a single-party majority, leaving the door open for parties to form other coalitions should Pita fail to win the first round.

Second, Move Forward's signature policies of ending military conscription and amending the country's lese-majeste laws -- which criminalize insulting the monarchy -- are a red line for senators appointed by the former military government.

The Election Commission also has until Monday to investigate whether Pita violated election law by knowingly running for office unqualified. Opponents say Pita was unqualified for holding shares in a now-defunct media company. Pita said the shares were in his name only as the administrator of his father's will and transferred the shares to relatives in late May.

How will the establishment respond?

Move Forward's election victory shook the conservative and pro-military parties, who were decisively repudiated by voters. Options appear to have run out for conservatives, with popular fervor on the side of the pro-democracy coalition and the failure of electoral complaints against Pita and Move Forward.

Whoever becomes prime minister, demonstrations could happen from all sides. A heavy-handed response to protesters by the government -- let alone another coup -- will further dim economic prospects amid a stock market downturn in the country. Nikkei ASIA, 3/7/2023

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