Gen Prayut’s brother appointed to military-dominated Tourism Committee

Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, brother of PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, has been appointed to a Senate tourism committee despite being criticised for too many absences while working for his brother’s military government. The appointment is only the tip of the iceberg of the military role in Thai politics.

Top left: Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, among other military-background Tourism Committees

In April, the Royal Gazette published a notification from the Senate appointing Gen Preecha, a Senator, to the Senate Standing Committee on Tourism to fill a vacant seat.

The Committee’s mandate is to discuss, study and investigate tourism-related laws or issues. It currently consists of 21 members, 20 of whom are Senators and 13 are from the military.

Military members of the Senate Standing Committee on Tourism

Name

Work experience

ACM Adisak Klansnoh

Ex-NLA, Senator

Ad Choomnoom Ardwong

Ex-NLA, Senator

Gen. Podok Bunnag

Ex-NLA, Senator

Adm Itthikomn Bhamarasuta

Ex-Deputy Secretary-General to the PM for Political Affairs (2015), Senator

Gen Boontham Oris

Senator

Gen Pissanu Puttawong

Ex-NLA, Senator, ex-Head of the General Prem Tinsulanonda Statesman Foundation

Gen Pairoj Panichsamai

Ex-NLA, Senator

Gen Chayuth Suwanamas

Ex-NLA, Senator

Gen Navin Damrigan

Ex-National strategy on security drafting committee, Senator

Capt Prayut Souwakon

Ex-Civil Aviation Training Centre Board, Senator

Gen Preecha Jan-o-cha

Ex-NLA, Senator, former Permanent Secretary of Defence

Pol Lt Gen Wiboon Bangthamai

Ex-NLA, Senator

Gen Supharat Phatthanawisut

Ex-NLA

All of the military officers who sit on the Committee are members of the Senate and 9 are former members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), a legislative body hand-picked by the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order that overthrew the elected government in 2014.

Gen Preecha is well-known for his numerous absences during his term as an NLA member. In 2017, Preecha and other 6 NLA members were present for less than one-third of all votes in a 3-month period, a violation of NLA meeting rules for which they could be fired unless they had submitted leave of absence papers.

Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, the NLA President at that time, said that they had already turned in the paperwork. iLaw, a civil society organization, tried to access information on this but the office in charge responded that the information is secret.

Military officers became more influential in formal politics after the 2014 coup d’état. They have been appointed as members of the legislature and cabinet. They also sit on many committees under the military government.

Their roles in public office have persisted even after the 2019 general election. The BBC reported that 104 out of 250 senators are police or military officers. The chiefs of the Police, Army, Navy and Air Force, the Supreme Commander and the Permanent Secretary of the Defence Ministry are automatically given senate seats. Admiral Sittawach Wongsuwan, brother of Deputy PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, has also been appointed a Senator.

Source: 
https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/04/87236

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