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A spokesperson from the PM’s Secretariat Office has slammed opposition parties for trying to end the PM’s term prematurely. Thippanan Sirichana accuses opposition MPs of trying to damage Prayut Chan-o-cha’s reputation because they’re concerned he might score a second term in office. According to a Bangkok Post report, the confrontation is the result of a difference of opinion as to how long the PM has been in office. Opposition parties say the PM has been in his role since being confirmed as head of the National Council for Peace and Order following the 2014 military coup. Section 158 of the […]

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This issue will be an interesting insight into Thailand's future.
In a sense, both interpretations of Prayut's tenure are correct; as the charter wasn't in force during the Junta period, it is hard to argue that it should be back-dated. On the other hand, it is hard to argue that the Charter isn't clear about an eight-year total time limit in the PM's chair.
As per many unclear issues, there will have to be a court ruling unless Prayut voluntarily steps down ahead of the deadline, something that is unlikely.
Thailand often claims, quite erroneously, that it is a 'Rule of Law' state and that claim will be put to the test. Should a court declare that Prayut's time as Prime Minister before the 'election' doesn't count towards the eight-year total, then it is pretty clear that there is a bad-faith effort underway and that there really is no hope for any 'rules-based' path forward. What are the implications for that? Were I a member of the Legislature, especially as an Opposition member, it would be clear that the process governing the future has no hope of ever being fair and would refuse to participate further; what would be the point? The only real option after such a ruling would be on the street.
Alternatively, were the court to enforce the eight-year limit on power, it would signal that, while not really a 'rules-based' society, at least there is some hope that a kind of Thai-Style regular order is possible in the future. I doubt that anyone really expects a true and fair democratic system, but a partial one is possible.
The basic question will come down to this; do the PTB feel that they need at least a partial 'consent of the governed' in order to maintain legitimacy, or do they believe that they can act with impunity?
The answer to that question will be very interesting...


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