Monday review: junta’s organic laws and aftermath of late King’s cremation

In the aftermath of mourning for the late King, a provincial governor has faced a furious protest for his failure in organising a local cremation ceremony while the junta’s organic laws have caused public concern. 
 
After the royal cremation on 26 October, King Maha Vajiralongkorn allowed the cremation site to be open to the public throughout November. It is estimated that the three-billion-baht crematorium has attracted 100,000 visitors per day and the military government is responsible for facilitating visits.
 
However, the cremation site was fully accessible for only one day. On 2 November, Anan Shooshod of the Ministry of Culture announced that visitors will no longer be allowed into the inner parts of the crematorium since various visitors showed “inappropriate behaviour” such as taking selfies and picking flowers and stones from the site. Anan added that this new regulation will also prevent damage to the crematorium.
 
Apart from the cremation site at Sanam Luang, the junta government ordered all provinces to build crematorium replicas and hold cremation ceremonies in their localities so that Thai people who could not afford to travel to the ceremony in Bangkok could also participate in the historic event. Some provincial governors subsequently faced local protests for their failures.
 
On 30 October, over 300 people in Chonburi gathered in front the office of Provincial Governor Pakkaratorn Teainchai. The protesters called for his dismissal over the local ceremony. They claimed that the event was so disorganised that various participants were prevented from paying their final respects to the late King since Pakkaratorn gave government officials the privilege of joining the ceremony before ordinary members of the public.
 
Although Pakkaratorn later apologised for his failure, the crowd vowed to continue protesting until the governor resigned. 
 
After the end of mourning for the late King, the ruling junta started to prepare the country for the long-awaited election with the selection process of new Election Commissioners of Thailand (ECT) following the endorsement of Organic Act on the Election Commission. Applications can be submitted until 10 November. 
 
On 2 November, however, the National Assembly Radio and Television Broadcasting Station reported in its Parliamentary News that there had so far been only one applicant, even though applications had been open for over two weeks. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, President of the National Legislative Assembly, told the media that he was not concerned by the low number of applicants as he believed more individuals would apply as the deadline approaches. 
 
Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a current caretaker Election Commissioner who is being forced out of office by the Organic Law, stated that the low number of applicants could be the result of the new law setting qualifications that were too high. For example, applicants must not have held a political position or been a member of a political party during the past 10 years.
 
In addition to the Organic Law on the Election Commission, Somchai last week also criticised the draft organic law on General Elections for putting an excessive burden on voters and politicians. His major concern is that each constituency will have their own numbering of candidates.
 
In the past, all candidates from the same party were represented by the same number allocated by the ECT on a lottery basis. Somchai was worried that the change might make voters confused as they previously had to remember only the number of their favoured party. Now they have to remember the face of their favoured candidate in their constituency.  Parties could only advertise their name, whereas in previous elections they could also campaign on their party number.
 
Somchai added that the new system also has a high risk of electoral fraud as the ECT has to prepare 350 different ballot forms.
 
 
The protest against Chonburi Governor (Photo from Thairath)