Junta installs committee to ‘take care of’ elected governments for 20 years

Thailand’s junta-appointed parliament has passed a bill that will install a committee tasked with ensuring that future governments adhere to the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) strategic plans for the next twenty years. Governments which fail to bring to life the NCPO’s wishes will face prosecution by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

In 2015 junta head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha announced the intention to draft a 20-year national strategic plan to guide the nation’s governance even after elections. Thailand’s new constitution was subsequently written to require governments to adhere to any legislation related to the junta’s reform plans.

Under the new bill, heads of government departments will be required to report annually on their operations to the new special committee, the cabinet and parliament. If either the lower house or senate finds that a department is not following the NCPO’s reform strategy, the department head may be reported for investigation by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

If a previously reported department head subsequently fails to reform the department’s work, the special committee has the power to bring the matter to the National Anti-Corruption Commission once again. The bill was passed on 22 June 2017 by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) with 218 votes in favour, no votes against and only three abstentions.

Unsurprisingly, the bill ensures that the committee will be stacked with members sympathetic to the military. The committee’s chair will be the Prime Minister, with one vice-chair being the speaker of the lower house, and another will be the speaker of the appointed senate.

Positions in the committee are also reserved for the Permanent Secretary of the Defence Ministry, the Chief of the Defence forces, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Police.

Other positions have been reserved for leaders of previous junta-appointed bodies such as the Secretary-General of the National Security Council. The final 17 positions will be allocated to various individuals with relevant expertise.

This appointed committee is in turn mandated to appoint a number of sub-committees to monitor different aspects of governance in accordance with the junta’s plans.  

On the same day, the NLA passed a draft bill related to further elaborating the junta’s 20- year nation reform plans. The bill will establish another series of committees tasked with deliberating various aspects of national reform.