Fishing out the political series of events in Thailand, we find ourselves glued to the narration of our insider, Wan Muhamad Noor Matha – a man of many clues who presently sits as Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of Parliament. Thursday was a day of revelations as he cited the potential delay of the prime minister elections if the court agreed to the hearing plea from the Ombudsman’s Office. The ripples of this decision could bring about postponement, presenting a new chain of events.
A join meeting of both Houses had previously been fixed for August 4, expected to weigh upon the Move Forward Party’s bill. This bill proposed changes to Article 272 of the Constitution. Article 272 currently offers the Senate the right to unite with the Lower House and participate actively in the selection process of Thailand’s prime minister. But this particular power bestowed upon the Senate would extend only for five years starting May 2019. This stemmed from the first meeting of the National Assembly post the enforcement of the 2017 Constitution.
Quite intriguingly, this authority of the unelected senators has become an issue of contention. It has been pointed out as the culprit for Pita’s failure to gather enough parliamentary support to step into the shoes of the prime minister. A mere 13 nods from the 250-strong Senate wasn’t enough to tip the balance in his favor.
Bowing to the current simmering drama, the Constitutional Court’s judges have set a date – next Thursday (August 3), to debate on whether to accept the petition by the Ombudsman’s Office. Now, Wan Noor, tactically, has refrained from scheduling the next parliamentary meeting on the same day. It would be wise to wait for the court’s decision on the matter. Plus, a six-day public holiday standing from this Friday to next Wednesday needed to be considered. So, the best route was to invite the parliamentarians for a meeting on the next business day after the holiday, which falls on Thursday.
Adding to the ongoing political theatre, Noor and a group of Thai MPs and senators have their bags packed for a trip to Indonesia from August 5-10. They plan to join a meeting featuring parliamentarians from Asean. Amidst these developments, amidst news reports speculating the former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s plans to end his exile and make a comeback to Thailand on August 10, Noor doesn’t see his return impacting the Parliamentary schedule to select a new prime minister, expressing that there is no correlation.
In the arena of the next Parliamentary meeting, the face of the Pheu Thai Party is anticipated to step forward as the candidate for the hot seat of the prime minister. Pita’s previous failure to clasp majority support has triggered Move Forward to step back and invite the Pheu Thai Party to lead the eight-party coalition’s efforts to form the next government.