70 FFP MPs go against rest of parliament in troop transfer vote

Yesterday (18 October), 70 Future Forward Party (FFP) MPs voted not to approve the Emergency Decree to transfer the control of two infantry regiments to King Vajiralongkorn, going against the rest of parliament, including their opposition allies.

The decree was passed by 374 to 70, with 2 MPs abstaining. FFP was the only party to vote against the decree, which will grant King Vajiralongkorn personal control of the 1st and 11th Infantry Regiments. The two regiments were previously in the military chain of command under the Royal Thai Army and the Ministry of Defence.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, FFP’s Secretary General, said that this Emergency Decree is not in accordance with Section 172 Clause 2 of the Constitution, which dictates that an Emergency Decree can be issued by the cabinet in response to four urgent concerns: national security, public safety, economic security, or disaster control. He compared the process of issuing the decree to the use of special powers under Section 44, and said that he cannot approve the decree because there is no emergency, and in order to show that he does not accept Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s exercise of power without a care for the Constitution. 

Gen Prayuth has claimed that it was an urgent matter of national security when he transferred the two Infantry Regiments. However, the government has yet to specify what “emergency” required the decree to be passed immediately.

Despite this, the rest of parliament, including the opposition parties, voted in favour of the decree. Within FFP, Chiang Mai MP Srinuan Boonlue abstained from voting, while Kawinnart Takee from Chonburi and Charoek Sri-on and Pol Lt Col Thanaphat Kittiwongsa from Chanthaburi went against the rest of their party and voted in favour of the decree.