Thailand's Prayut to consider continuing PM role

Thailand's Prayut to consider continuing PM role

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha says he will consider continuing his role as the next prime minister if there are no other "good" options available.

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha says he will consider continuing his role as the next prime minister if there are no other "good" options available.

This is the first time Prayut has commented on the matter.

On previous occasions, he consistently declined to comment whenever the issue came up.

His remarks came after a prominent former senator said he would launch a new political party and nominate Prayut as Thailand's next prime minister after general elections planned for late 2017 take place.

Paiboon Nittitawan is a former Senator and an activist with political pressure group, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

Days after Thailand's referendum on the draft constitution was concluded, he announced his intention to form a political party called the People’s Reform Party.

His platform is to push for reforms in Thai politics, starting with the setting of what he sees as the “right attributes” for public office holders, starting with the future prime minister.

"At this moment in time, there’s only General Prayut Chan-ocha that possesses the right attributes (to be Prime Minister)… This is not because he is a soldier. This party is not set up to be a party for the military. But I see him as an able administrator for the country who is good and honest.”

The military appointed Senate might have a role in making this a reality.

On Aug 7, the Thai public voted in favour of a clause allowing appointed senators to choose the next prime minister, along with elected members of parliament.

Initially, this meant that the Senate, along with parliament, would need to vet the political parties' choices of candidates for prime minister.

But this week, some members of the military-appointed reform and legislative assemblies, said that the Senate should have the right to nominate up front, its own candidate for prime minister, like what the political parties get to do.

This is something that Mr Paiboon had a role in engineering.

“The Prime Minister should be endorsed by both Senators and Members of Parliament, I was the one who proposed this. And in May 2015, I proposed (to the Senate) that this should be included as a separate question in the referendum.”

For Mr Nittitawan and many of his ultra conservative supporters, having Prayut stay on as a prime minister, backed by an appointed Senate, would ensure political stability and provide a counter-weight to elected politicians in the lower house.

But an observer predicts that the next government will likely face many problems, generated by many changes enacted under this military government, and they won't have the absolute power to deal with them.

“I think there will be many disturbances. It won’t be a protest against military coup (like now) but rather a myriad of issues on a daily basis... So the government that lacks the political experience or relies solely on the support from the military in the senate will have difficulties in dealing with these problems, particularly because they would not have the same power as the present coup-maker.”

Under a democratic system, Thai governments in the past, have had to weather many political storms in parliament as well as on the streets.

Military “inspired” political parties have never fared well in Thailand's history because they lack clear political bases, but former senator Nittitawan clearly sees the 16 million public votes from the Aug 7 referendum, favouring the draft charter, as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Prayut and the military government’s reforms agenda.

But it needs to be noted that these 16 million votes represent a fraction of the voting population. 50.5 million people were eligible to vote on Aug 7 but just over half of them actually voted.

Source: CNA/mn