Proposal to directly elect PM in Thailand vetoed

A proposal to introduce direct elections for the prime minister and cabinet in Thailand was rejected by country's Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), saying the system would cause problems and carries "risks".

Bangkok: A proposal to introduce direct elections for the prime minister and cabinet in Thailand was rejected by country's Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), saying the system would cause problems and carries "risks".

The CDC unanimously turned down the idea suggested by the National Reform Council's political-reform panel and agreed the country should retain the previous bicameral parliament in which the premier is chosen by elected MPs, CDC vice-chairman Suchit Bunbongkarn said.

"We were concerned the system would cause problems. The conventional parliamentary systems should be less problematic. This may be seen as far from progressive. But being progressive has risks," Suchit was quoted as saying by Bangkok Post on Wednesday.

He said the committee had discussed the direct election proposal and agreed the system under which the prime minister's election by the majority of the House of Representatives should remain. He said the CDC could not accept the proposal because the direct election of the premier and the cabinet is fraught with risks.

Suchit said the CDC could not know how the direct election system would have turned out, adding that it would be difficult to prevent political parties from being dominated by party financiers and businessmen, since national elections require a lot of funding.

He argued the conventional parliamentary system will still be able to address political problems, and there is no need for a dramatic change to an unfamiliar system. He said the current system can be improved to prevent any political party from monopolising power in the House.

Suchit said several proposals to improve the parliamentary system are being considered. One is that the House speaker could be barred from party activities, and that deputy House speakers be chosen from parties that win fewer seats, not from those that hold the majority of House seats.

Another proposal is that MPs are allowed to vote against party resolutions and retain their status as MPs if they are expelled from their parties, Suchit said.

He said the CDC will today discuss the proposals as well as other ideas involving the number of MPs and senators and their powers.

Country's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former Thai army officer, is also the head of the National Council for Peace and Order, a military junta that has the power to control the prime minister.

In May, Prayut launched a military coup against the government and assumed control of the country. In August, a military-dominated national legislature elected him as the new prime minister.  

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