Thursday, November 23, 2017
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CDC defends proportional vote system

Posted by pakin On November - 20 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) defended the new voting system on Sunday, following growing criticism from political parties that it is designed to weaken an elected government.

The new system will add up the votes parties receive in all constituencies nationwide to determine the percentage of party-list MP seats each is allocated.

Politicians claim the new model will prevent major parties from gaining a majority of House seats and being able to form a single-party government. This could result in multi-party coalitions which are seen as lacking political stability.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said the system is designed to make sure that every vote cast on election day counts. Unlike the old first-past-the-post system, votes cast for losing constituency candidates will still be used to calculate the number of party-list seats.

Mr Meechai was referring to the formula to be used to calculate party-list seats to ensure the threshold of 150.

The total number of MPs is capped at 500, 350 of whom are elected from constituencies and 150 coming from the party list.

He also dismissed as “speculation” the criticism that no party will win enough seats to form a single-party administration.

“If a party gets many votes, those votes will be counted and used in the allocation of the House seats. But of course the party can’t get more from the party list than its proportion of votes even if it wins a landslide victory,” he said.

The CDC chairman also said politicians’ concerns cannot force any changes because the new voting system is included in the new charter while the organic bill only specifies the details.

“The calculation isn’t difficult and it will be done by election officials,” he said.

Mr Meechai said the voting system also has another key feature which is equally important, pointing out that “no” votes (spoiled votes) will not be wasted as the proposals require constituency MP candidates to win more votes than the total number of “no” votes, to qualify for a constituency MP seat.

Pheu Thai’s Chusak Sirinil insisted Sunday the new voting system is designed to cripple major parties, and when combined with other conditions such as the qualifications and the nomination of the prime minister, the new system is designed to allow the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) a prolonged stay in power.

The Democrat Party, on the other hand, warned the new voting system is not foolproof and politicians can come up with a strategy to undermine it.

Democrat deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said a large party will use the tactic of dividing itself into smaller parties to contest elections, only to form a coalition government later.

This can help win as many as 250 seats, he said.

However, he said the elected government will face a stability crisis due to the 250-seat senate, which is appointed by the regime.

Nikorn Chamnong, director of Chartthaipattana Party, echoed Mr Niphit’s view that the elected government will lack political stability.

“What will happen is that the elected government is weak. And despite the problems it [the voting system] can’t be fixed because it’s part of the charter,” he said.

 

Laws concerning the qualification of candidates contesting local elections must be amended before the general election can be held, chief charter drafter Meechai Ruchupan has said.

The government is discussing whether local elections will be held ahead of the national election and legal amendments have been raised.

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said he would discuss the matter with concerned parties, including the Constitution Drafting Commission, which is drafting the organic laws.

Meechai said the election cannot take place within one or two months as the related laws need to be amended first.

He said the Election Commission can still go ahead with its work in organising the elections in local areas.

Local elections are normally supervised by the EC, although under the new law there will no longer be provincial ECs.

Political parties, he said, could support their candidates, but it is up to the National Council for Peace and Order to decide when to lift the ban on political gatherings.

 

PM slammed for six questions

Posted by pakin On November - 9 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS

POLITICIANS AND ACADEMICS SAY ‘DANGEROUS’ MOVE INDICATES NCPO’S INTENTION TO CLING TO POWER AND LEGITIMISE UNDEMOCRATIC RULE

PRIME MINISTER GENERAL Prayut Chan-o-cha’s latest efforts to survey people’s thoughts on politics with six controversial questions appeared to be an attempt not only to set a political agenda but also to legitimise the junta’s rule despite it being undemocratic, politicians and academics have concluded.

The comments came one day after the prime minister refused to rule out the possibility of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) setting up a military-backed party to contest the next elections.

Prayut abruptly came up with the six questions himself when he was attending a meeting yesterday morning at Government House and then made additional comments on the release of the questions a few hours later.

The new tack came shortly after the NCPO was criticised for maintaining the political ban although the political party bill has been implemented and the mourning period for the late King Rama IX has ended.

The questions are Prayut’s second “survey” after the first earlier this year. The previous questions, which required respondents to answer in person at Damrongdhamma centres, elicited about 1 million responses.

However, the government has not released a report on the outcome of the survey.

The earlier four questions were viewed as leading respondents to disapprove of politicians and cast doubt on Thailand’s democratic system. The six new questions follow a similar pattern – but with a stronger tone.

Key Pheu Thai Party figure Watana Muangsook said he believed that Prayut, who seized power in the 2014 coup, had no right to ask such questions to the public at all.

“He still casts doubts on politicians, although political mechanisms should have been ready by now,” Watana said. “We would like to move to be prepare for the election, not clash with anyone. How could we create any insecurity as claimed by Prayut?”

Independent political academic Trakoon Meechai said he believed the questions were asked based on an underestimation of the potential public backlash, particularly given speculation that the junta wanted to cling to power after the election.

The questions were leading, seeking answers legitimising the junta and discrediting politicians, Trakoon said. Ultimately, the questions were asking if it is okay for the junta to maintain a lingering political influence by backing a political party.

“This method of ensuring one’s own legitimacy may differentiate any emerging party submitted by the NCPO from those parties backed by the military in the past,” Trakoon said. “But it will be very dangerous for the junta itself to publicly show this kind of intention.”

 

THE CRIMINAL case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her role in the rice-pledging scheme technically closed on Friday when neither Yingluck nor the prosecutor submitted an appeal, her lawyer and the prosecutor both confirmed yesterday.

Yingluck, who is reportedly in the United Kingdom, was sentenced to five years in jail for her negligence in preventing corruption and irregularities in her government’s rice-pledging scheme before the 2014 coup.

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders convicted her in absentia and announced her prison sentence on September 27. The law allows her to appeal within 30 days of the date of the verdict delivery, but she would have to launch the appeal in person from inside Thailand.

“We have not yet received contact from her, therefore we did not make any request to the court to extend the period of appeal,” said her lawyer Norawit Lalang. “As we did not make an appeal, the case is technically final.”

Yingluck fled the country a few days before the court had originally been due to deliver its verdict on August 25 and Norawit said he had received no contact from his client since then.

The court issued an arrest warrant following her failure to turn up in August and delivered its verdict in absentia when she again missed her court appearance on September 27.

Location unknown’

State prosecutor Surasak Tritrattrakul said that since neither of the involved parties had made any appeals to the court, the case was now final and authorities would enforce the verdict to compel Yingluck to serve her sentence.

However, Yingluck’s location is still unknown, authorities have said. Local media reports, citing unnamed sources, have said she is in London, where her brother Thaksin Shinawatra has a home. While some reports said she was seeking political asylum in the UK, Thai officials were unable to verify the claim.

Police have said they have asked cooperation from Interpol to force Yingluck to be returned to Thailand to serve her sentence but there still remained no clear clues about her whereabouts.

The junta has shifted blame for her disappearance to a police officer. Pol Colonel Chairit Anurit of the Metropolitan Police allegedly drove Yingluck to Sa Kaew province on August 23 and has been dismissed from duty.

This follows a police fact-finding committee’s ruling that the officer committed a grave disciplinary offence. He had also committed a lesser breach of the code of conduct for illegal use of a vehicle, the committee ruled.

Yingluck is not the only person convicted in the controversial case – ministers in her cabinet and many senior government officials were found to be involved in the fraud, which cost the country hundreds of billions of baht.

Yingluck’s former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom was jailed for 42 years and former deputy commerce minister Phumi Saraphol was sentenced to 36 years.

Both men have submitted appeals to the court.

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