Thai PM hoping for “Thai Style” democracy
ON CHILDREN’S DAY, PRAYUT DEFINES HIS CONCEPT AS ONE FREE FROM CONFLICTS
THE prime minister told children visiting Government House yesterday that Thailand certainly must have democracy but one that is “Thai-style”. In his speech during an event commemorating Children’s Day, General Prayut Chan-o-cha did not clearly define the term. He simply said that it should be a democracy free from conflicts. “Our country cannot afford any more conflicts.
We certainly must have democracy. But it is Thai-style democracy. We must not break the rules. I ask all Thais to consider this,” he said. Prayut, who also heads the ruling junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), also said there must be efforts to instil basic democratic principles in younger people to ensure a stable future for the country. The premier told his visitors that this is a “year of peace and orderliness”, adding that the country had seen increased peace and orderliness in the last 3-4 years.
Prayut also had some advice for parents. He asked them to encourage their children to study in the areas that they like and gain skills. “We do not want everybody to do the same things. We should encourage children to study with the goals of increased social development and improved national competitiveness,” he said.
Hundreds of minors, accompanied by their parents or guardians, went to Government House and attended activities organised to mark Children’s Day, which is held on the second Saturday of January. Many of the young visitors went inside the prime minister’s office just to sit on his seat and have their photos taken. Some of the children came from as far as the southern border provinces, and some young visitors represented children with disabilities and special needs.
A six-year-old Muslim girl, from a kindergarten in Nonthaburi, was the first child to be allowed to sit on the PM’s seat. Only a small number of lucky children visiting Government House were allowed to have their photos taken with the PM. Others had to settle for having their photos taken with cardboard cut-outs of General Prayut in different poses. The PM also took part in activities organised for the visiting children, including singing and handing out colouring books.
Meanwhile, key Pheu Thai Party figure Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan has urged politicians from all political parties to jointly show stance against an “outsider” prime minister gaining power after the next general election. “An outsider PM would ruin the system. Pheu Thai will take a strong stance against an outsider,” Sudarat yesterday told Kom Khao, a website affiliated with the “red-shirt” movement. Sudarat’s appeal came from her belief that Prayut would become the next government head without running in an election because the current Constitution allows an outsider to become a prime minister.
Under the charter, 250 senators picked by the junta are empowered to vote along with 500 elected members of the House of Representatives in selecting a new prime minister. This means the new prime minister may not come from the party that wins a majority of seats in the Lower House. Observers believe Prayut may prolong his power after the election by becoming an outsider premier with the support of senators and some politicians for parties connected to the junta.
But if politicians joined forces, it would help to prevent the future promulgation of “bizarre” regulations, Sudarat said. Politicians from two major parties – Pheu Thai and Democrat – have called on Prayut to run in the election. But that option is no longer possible because the charter states that members of National Legislative Assembly, Cabinet or NCPO have to resign from their posts within 90 days after the new charter becomes effective if they wish to contest the next election.
The new charter was promulgated in April last year. Prayut has said the next election would be held in November.