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Thailand’s House Passes Bill to Abolish Controversial NCPO Orders: A Step Towards Inclusive Governance in Southern Provinces

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MPs Attend a Spirited Three-Day Debate on Budget Proposal (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

In a significant legislative session, the House of Representatives witnessed a compelling debate where a bill intended to abolish the controversial coup-era orders passed triumphantly. This legislative action unfolded as the House convened to consider amendments that promise to revive and recalibrate public participation in the administration of Thailand’s restive southern provinces.

Specifically targeting the notorious “14th/2016 NCPO” orders, the bill aims to dismantle directives issued by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in April 2016. These orders had hitherto rendered sections of the Southern Border Administration Act partially inoperative, creating substantial barriers to effective governance in the region.

By destabilizing the advisory council on Southern Border Administration and Development—an entity composed of representatives from the far South—the NCPO’s orders have long been seen as a hindrance to community-driven governance. Furthermore, these orders granted the Internal Security Operation Command disproportionate control over the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC), a body traditionally steered by civilian administration.

The bill in question, introduced with the intent to breathe new life into the advisory council, had already made notable progress earlier in the year, clearing its first reading in the House. Following this, a meticulous examination was conducted by a House committee chaired by Pheu Thai list-MP Chaturon Chaisang. This team of legislators scrutinized the bill closely, ensuring it met the necessary criteria for efficacy and relevance.

Among the key revisions, they stipulated that the advisory council must be constituted within 120 days of the bill becoming law. This provision underscores a commitment to prompt and effective implementation, ensuring that the council can begin its crucial work without undue delay.

The House floor was abuzz with lively discussions as MPs dissected every clause of the bill. The intensity of the debate underscored the significance of the legislation, with representatives passionately expressing their support for measures designed to foster inclusive governance in the southern provinces.

When the moment of truth arrived, the House issued a resounding verdict: a unanimous vote of 406:0 in favor of the bill. This decisive outcome signifies broad bipartisan support for initiatives aimed at enhancing public participation in regional administration.

Buoyed by this momentum, the bill is now set to be presented to the Senate for further review and potential ratification. Addressing his colleagues in the House, Mr. Chaturon stressed the vital role of the advisory council in conflict resolution. “This council is not just an administrative body; it is a pivotal mechanism that encourages a diverse array of voices to play an active role in governance. This, in turn, nurtures a more participatory, democratic, and peaceful society,” he asserted.

This legislative milestone marks a significant step toward empowering local communities and reestablishing civilian oversight in one of Thailand’s most challenging regions. Whether the Senate will mirror the House’s enthusiasm remains to be seen, but for now, advocates for the bill can savor this momentous victory.

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