In a democracy, changes are possible through the democratic process.
While those in power might corrupt, abuse power, and exploit the people, at least if the body of law that governs the land is just and fair, there’s something the people can rely on.
Democratically, the people may demonstrate in the streets to make demands and create public pressures on lawmakers so that change may come through legislation.
But what if the pen that wrote the body of law (the constitution) was so unjust that changes are impossible?
Last week, the Move Forward party attempted to propose a motion to hit delete on the 250 junta-appointed senator’s power to directly choose the prime minister. They failed to get the number of MPs required to push the motion through.
Now, the two largest opposition parties, Move Forward and Pheu Thai, joined hands to do even more: amend a set of undemocratic laws.
While Thailand is no longer an outright military dictatorship, these laws mean that the military dictatorship’s legacy still rules the Thai people.
Article 272 gives the 250 junta-appointed senators the power to directly elect the prime minister and specifies that the prime minister doesn’t have to be an elected MP. Hence, we have General Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Please note that the junta-appointed senators’ power in this Article has a five-year cap. This means they still have the power in the next election, nearly guaranteeing four more years of General Prayut. Unless there’s a snap election before then, the next election should be in 2023.
If the Article is not amended, Thailand would have to wait until 2027 for this military dictatorship’s legacy to end. That’s correct, seven more years of General Prayut.
Article 279 legitimizes all orders by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the military dictatorship regime, otherwise known as Kor Sor Chor.
The legitimization includes the act of the 2014 military coup, the tearing up of the 2007 constitution, the imprisonment of citizens in the “Attitude Adjustment Camp,” and all other actions that violate human rights and democracy, without trial and due process of law.
Article 270 states that any law regarding “national reform” must be jointly approved by the parliament and the senate. This means the parliament cannot pass national legislation without the consent of the 250 junta-appointed senators.
Article 271 states that any law regarding punishing “government officials” must be joint approved by both houses. This means coup makers and human rights abusers would never be prosecuted by law unless the 250 junta-appointed senators consent.
Articles 88, 88, 83, 85, 90, 91 and 94. To amend these laws so that Thailand may return to the previous constitution’s electoral system, citizens would vote for a candidate and a political party.
But here’s the catch
Amending any of these laws requires majority votes of both houses. That is 375 votes from the 500 elected MPs and 250 junta-appointed senators.
Here’s an even bigger catch.
The constitution also specifies that one-third of the junta-appointed senators must agree. That’s 84 handpicked men and women of the junta.
Here’s the final process before becoming law.
If Move Forward and Pheu Thai manage to succeed in both houses, within 15 days, the new amendments must be put forth to King Rama 10 for His Majesty’s signature.
Hence, the question.
If this cannot be done, what’s next?