Opinion – Sretta’s govt. to remain stable despite some rumbling in the weeks ahead as political temperatures rise

Despite the talks of possible fall out of the ‘big deal’ and the fact that the month of June from today (June 10) onwards is set to see Thailand’s political temperatures reaching new highs, the likelihood of any major political upheaval happening in Thailand is next to zero.

Thailand’s political temperatures are set to rise as various political issues are set to be deliberated by the Constitutional Court starting this week and will run until the end of the month or into July.

For starters, June 10 is the deadline for incumbent Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to submit his written defense to the Constitutional Court after the Court on May 23rd accepted a petition filed by 40 outgoing Senators for breach of moral code in the 2016 Constitution that stipulates that a person who has been jailed cannot hold a political office for up to 10-years after competition of the jail term.

The Senators had filed the petition after the Cabinet reshuffled on April 28th saw the appointment of Pichit Chuenban to be the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office. Pichit had been jailed for 6-months in 2008 for contempt of court after he was accused of trying to bribe court officials with 2-million Baht in grocery paper bag. Pichit had denied that he was bribing and instead said that his help got the wrong bag from the car as the 2nd paper bag had snacks for officials at the court. The Bar Association of Thailand had suspended Pichit’s practicing license for 5-years.

The appointment of Pichit (although legally correct as the 10-year rule was over in 2018, was morally incorrect, the Senators say in their petition. One of the clauses of the 2016 military coup drafted constitution, stipulates that a Cabinet minister not only has to meet the prerequisite credentials but also must be morally above and beyond the other people.

The Constitutional Court had given Srettha 15-days to submit his defense and although Srettha had said that he would try to hand it in before the deadline, the court only considers the petition after it is handed in on the deadline set by the court.

Despite the handing in of the defense statement, the court can only offer its verdict on or after June 28th as it needs 14-working days to deliberate on the defense statement sent by Srettha.

As part of the move to keep his chair, Srettha has asked one of 2016 coup leader – Prayut Chan-o-cha’s key legal expert – Wissanu Krea-Ngam. Wissanu has reportedly looked into the defense statement to be submitted by Srettha.

Move Forward Dissolution

The 2nd case that is set to start the political time-bomb clicking is the case of dissolution of the country’s largest political party – Move Forward.

The Constitutional Court has set the date of June 12 as the day it will start the deliberations on the case that was filed by some activist that claimed that part of the election manifesto included amendment to the Article 112 or commonly called lese majeste.

It is widely talked about that the decision of the court could alter the fate of the Move Forward Party and despite the court ordering that none of the people involved talk about the issue until the court makes its verdict, Move Forward party’s former leader and Prime Minister candidate for 2023 elections – Pita Limjaroenrat, came out to specifically state that his party’s defense to the court is that the court has no jurisdiction to dissolve political parties.

Move Forward party blatantly defied the orders of the court and even if the court was to take time to deliberate on the issue for a few weeks or months, the defying act by Move Forward could prompt the court to make some other announcement on June 12.

Thaksin Shinawatra’s Lese Majeste Case

Former Prime Minister Thaksin, who returned to Thailand on August 22, 2023, the same day Srettha was sworn in as the Prime Minister, had reportedly made a ‘big deal’ that would absolve him of all the cases against him but on May 29th the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) came out to say that it would file a case against him for Thaksin’s interview way back in 2015.

Thaksin, who was supposed to be at the May 29th announcement, had called in ‘sick’ saying he was infected with Covid-19, and after his 3 Covid-19 attacks in the past the 74-year-old Thaksin was not in the best health to go to the May 29th appointment.

Thaksin had sought a 1-month extension, but the OAG gave only until June 18th to come and hear the case against him.

Thaksin, over the weekend, looking healthy, came out to say that he would go to the hearing on June 18th. He has said that the interview was distorted, and the prosecution was politically motivated as his sister – Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from power in 2014 and all agencies including the OAG were ordered to prosecute Thaksin and Yingluck.

No Way Out for the Old Clique

The so called ‘old clique’ or the powers that want to maintain their grip on power have little, if any, options remaining in their firepower, except to continue to stick to Pheu Thai party.

Pheu Thai party, once the archrival of the ‘old clique’ has changed sides to join with the enemy to form a government because all other parties that were previously used by this group of people has basically become irrelevant.

The old clique had used the ‘Democrat’ party to keep their power intact in the aftermath of the 2007 elections which was won by the People’s Power party (a predecessor to Pheu Thai party). The courts were used to disband the People’s Power party and the splinter groups formed from the dissolution went on to support Abhisit Vejjijiva from the Democrat party to be the Prime Minister.

Then came the 2011 elections that was won by Pheu Thai party by a landslide and that too did not last too long as protests started in 2013 against the ‘blanket amnesty’ that was passed in the wee hours of the morning as Pheu Thai has absolute majority in the parliament. This eventually led street protests and that led to the coup on May 22, 2014, and the ouster of Yingluck’s government from power.

Now with the Democrat party, nothing but a shadow of its past glory, has a mere 25 seats in the 500-seat parliament.

The political parties of 2014 coup leader – Palang Pracharat party and Ruam Thai Saang Chart party, but have a combined strength of just 76 MPs in the parliament (40 for Ruam Thai Saang Chart and 36 for Palang Pracharat party).

2014 coup leader Prayut who was looking for a graceful exit from his coup and then the heavy handed 9-years of rule until 2023 general elections, has become a Privy Council member, a position that puts him above politics and a graceful exit from all deeds (good or bad) that he had undertaken since the May 22, 2014, coup he undertook.

Despite calls for him to return from the ‘old clique’ it is unlikely that he would make a comeback into dirty politics.

This leaves very little, if any, options for the old clique to backstab Pheu Thai. Even if Move Forward is dissolved, and the old clique hopes to be able to attract some of the MPs into their fold, the likelihood of a major shift from the nearly 148 MPs of Move Forward is highly unlikely.

Previous rats who jumped the ship when Move Forward’s predecessor party – Future Forward, was dissolved, saw what happened to those who jumped the ship first. None of those so called ‘cobra’ MPs made it back to as an MP in 2023 general elections.

Political analysts say that at best no more than 25% of the 148 MPs or about 37 to maximum of 40 MPs may switch sides but that would not be enough to form a stable government. If 40 MPs of would be dissolved Move Forward are added to the 71 MPs from Bhumjai Thai party, 40 from Ruam Thai Saang Chart party, 36 from Palang Paracharat party and 25 from Democrat party, the outcome would be 212 seats in the 500 seats in the parliament.

This is 39 short of a simple majority of 251 MPs needed to stake claim to form a government.

Apart from the lack of numbers, the old clique also lacks a charismatic leader to be the Prime Minister as 2014 coup leader Prayut is the only one who can be the one, while the man infamous for his millions of dollars of watches borrowed from dead friends, Prawit Wongsuwon, is unlikely a candidate who can replace Srettha.

Therefore, despite all the rumblings that would purse in the days and weeks ahead, one should, at least for now, rest assured that the government of Srettha is going to remain stable.

The post Opinion – Sretta’s govt. to remain stable despite some rumbling in the weeks ahead as political temperatures rise appeared first on Thai Enquirer.

Go to Source
Author: Thanaphum Charoensombatpanich