Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has passed 66 laws between 18 January and 8 February 2019, just before the election, according to iLaw.
iLaw, a non-profit organization, reports on Facebook that in the past month alone the NLA has passed 66 laws, averaging 18 laws per week or 2.5 laws per day. The NLA has speeded up the process by increasing the number of weekly sessions from two to three.
This is despite Mr. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, President of the NLA, saying that it would stop considering new laws after the beginning of the year. Since it came into power in 2014, the NLA has passed 412 laws in total, comprising 93 new laws and 248 amendments:
“In almost 5 years, the NLA has done a lot of work in terms of passing laws. Many laws have been passed by the NLA to restrict rights and freedoms such as the amended 2016 Computer Crime Act and the 2015 Public Assembly Act as well as politically important laws, including the 2016 Referendum Act and the 2017 Organic Law on Election of Members of Representatives.”
The NLA has 250 members, all appointed by NCPO government, half of whom come from the military and the other half from the bureaucracy and retired officials.
iLaw says that while the focus is on the election on 24 March, citizens must remain vigilant about the NLA:
“When we look into the near future before the NLA expires, this law factory has still lined up for consideration dozens of laws, including some that the public is watching and which may have an impact on the rights and freedoms of the people, such as the Cyber Security Act, the Privacy Protection Act, and the Factory Act.”
Somchai Sawangkarn, NLA whip, said that the NLA will continue to hold meetings until 15 March and it will expire on 23 May. It is anticipated that the new parliament will open on 24 May.
“If it’s not necessary, we will not hold any meetings after 15 March, but we will follow up the laws that have been passed and require the ministries, bureaux and departments to pass organic laws. We will work on behalf of members of parliament and senators for the last two months and will receive appeals from the people”
- Somchai Sawangkarn
A similar situation prevailed in 2007, when another coup junta-appointed NLA was rushing bills through before a scheduled election could be held. On that occasion, 10 well-known activists led by Magsaysay Award winner Jon Ungphakorn staged a sit-in protest in the Parliament Building and halted proceedings. They faced a raft of criminal charges, including rebellion, but in 2013 were given fines and suspended sentences on lesser counts.