Opinion – Constitutional Court’s ruling today should give Pheu Thai a reason to get its act together

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and the ruling Pheu Thai party is set to face one of the toughest days in the 9-months since it has been in power as the Constitutional Court is set to rule on whether to accept the petition filed by as many as 40 of the outgoing senators or not.

The 40 senators, who are only in the position as ‘acting’ after their term expired on May 10 this year, field 2 petitions against the Prime Minister Srettha and his newly appointed Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office – Pichit Chuenban, for breach of article 160 (4&5) which also states that the minister has to have ‘moral’ to be a minister.

These senators have also petitioned to look into the Prime Minister for his role in presenting someone with lack of ‘moral’ to His Majesty the King for his endorsement.

The court has put today (May 23) as the D-day on what it wants to do with the petition that was filed with the court last week.

The petitioning of the 40 acting senators has prompted a flurry of political activities during the past few days including the resignation of Pichit from the position after having been in the position for just about 24 days.

Pichit in his resignation said that he was stepping down to save the Prime Minister because previous cases filed with the Constitutional Court have all been thrown out if and when the MPs or those accused have resigned from the position ahead of the court’s date for accepting or rejecting the case.

It is Phue Thai party’s only hope that the Constitutional Court would reject the petition but if the words of former Constitutional Court judge – Jaran Pukditanakul, is to be taken, then the likelihood of the court rejecting the case are very slim and next to zero.

“I don’t think the case for the Prime Minister is over yet because if you look into the petition filed you will see that they have filed 2 different cases and if Pichit has resigned it does not end the case against the Prime Minister,” Jaran said in an interview late last evening.

Jaran added that “as far as I can see the case of Pichit is over but for the Prime Minister it is not over.”

Political Games

The media has been reporting bits and pieces of who these 40 senators are, and it seems as though most of them are from the faction belonging to the former Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, the man who is infamous for borrowing multi-million-dollar watches from his dead friends.

Despite having lost the elections with just 40 seats in its hands and half of those seats now under the direct management of the drug dealing convict – Thammanat Prompan, Prawit has failed to give up his desire for power.

His frustration was further saw fuel added to the fire when one of his key appointments in the Cabinet Deputy Finance Minister Krisada Chinavicharana resigned on May 8th as Krisada was dissatisfied with the allocation of the workload in the Ministry of Finance after the new Finance Minister – Pichai Chunhavajira, was put in charge of the ministry.

Talks are that as much as 40 kgs (a slang used for million Baht) was used to convince the outgoing 40 senators to sign off on the papers seeking the Constitutional Court’s verdict on the 2 issues.

All these political pundits say is because the ‘big deal’ that was struck in August 2023 has started to sour and those who were in the old regime want some of those powers back, but there is no confirmation on any of these street talks.

Pheu Thai Needs to Get its act Together

Although today the Constitutional Court may decide to drop the case, the close call that the government of Srettha has come to from the political games being played by one of its own coalition member – Palang Pracharat party that has Prawit as its leader, is a reminder to Pheu Thai that it just cannot be the same it was when it was in absolute power in the past.

Pheu Thai party has always has had a reputation of being abrasive when it is in power and it tries to do its own way without the consideration of others. This was one of the key reasons for its governments to fall in the past and it seems as though history is repeating itself.

Pheu Thai party, despite its more benign ways these days, did manage to appoint Pichit as a minister despite the media and public outcry that such a move was would not go down well.

It is not to say that Pichit lacks the qualifications, in real terms the Prayut Chan-o-cha government and even Srettha’s 1st Cabinet line-up had the drug dealing convict – Thammant, as a minister (well he’s still in the Cabinet even today) but the public has been expecting more from the Pheu Thai and its government.

Although the Constitutional Court had ruled in May 2021 that Thammanat could remain in power because he was jailed in Australia (a foreign land), the issue of ‘morally fit’ has not been raised on him so far.

They seem to be willing to forgive Palang Pracharat party for nominating Thammant who was jailed in Australia for drug dealing, but not willing to forgive Pheu Thai party for nominating a jailed lawyer.

The double standard in the judgment by the people, the media and even the 40 senators is something that is worth noting. How is a drug dealer who was jailed for years in Australia ‘morally’ correct to sit as a Minister of Agriculture, while at the same time a jailed person who has crossed the minimum 10-year threshold of not holding political office and thus eligible to be a minister, is ‘morally’ not allowed?

By stating this, do not get the wrong idea that I am saying that Pichit should remain in the office, but instead what I am trying to say is that where were these ‘Moral’ policemen when Thammant was 1st appointed to the Cabinet?

These senators who were riding high on their cushy seats in the Senate doing nothing, had not raised their voices at that time or 5-years since he was appointed, but today these same people have the audacity to question the morality.

I also beg to ask the local Thai media outlets, which one of us has raised this issue?

The post Opinion – Constitutional Court’s ruling today should give Pheu Thai a reason to get its act together appeared first on Thai Enquirer.

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Author: Thanaphum Charoensombatpanich