Politicians have no right to disagree with me: Thai junta leader

The Thai junta leader scolded politicians for disagreeing with a plan to add an additional question to the public referendum on the draft constitution.    

Matichon Online reported that Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, on Monday, 11 April 2016, said that politicians have no right to disagree with him over the proposal to include another question in the public referendum to pass the draft constitution.

The referendum is scheduled for 7 August 2016.

The proposed additional question in the referendum concerns the authority of the appointed senate to intervene in the selection of the Prime Minister. The proposal has been negatively criticised by politicians from both the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties, the two biggest political parties in the country.

If the additional question gets a majority ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) led by Meechai Ruchuphan, will have to revise the draft constitution so that the appointed senate gets the right to choose the Prime Minister.

The junta leader told Matichon that it is up to the people to decide on the matter in the referendum.

“What is it going to bring? Who thinks it’s going to have [certain effects]? I think some people are with me in this. Therefore, will the people who are in the middle believe me or them (politicians)?” Matichon quoted Gen Prayut as saying.    

When asked by Matichon about his opinion on the recent statement from the Democrat Party that he should reveal a future plan in case if the draft constitution does not pass the upcoming referendum, he said “If it doesn’t pass, [the authority] will remain with me. Do you understand the word ‘authority’? And it’s up to me whether this authority is transparent or not. Why are you so curious? Just go vote in the referendum.”

Under the current draft constitution, 250 senators will be selected by a committee of 8-10 individuals. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will get to screen candidates for the committee who will be tasked with selecting all 250 senators.

The senate, which will serve for at least five years in cooperation with the NCPO, will have the mandate to push for reforms and to safeguard the constitution.

In addition, six seats in the senate are reserved for military and police leaders for a so-called five-year transition period toward ‘full democracy’.