Thai Democracy – Appointed, not Elected.

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On 30st March, A senatorial election took place nationwide. Unofficial result confirmed the stronghold of the two major contending parties remained unchanged, one side dominated the North and the Northeast, another side, along with unaffiliated runners, the South.

One thing that was missing from this election were the appointed Senators. These men, appointed by 7 independent agents – known as the 7 Saints – which rose to power from the 2008 Constitution, make up half of the senate. Their mandate does not arise from the people’s will, unlike the elected Senators, whose ascension conforms to the democratic norm.

The unconventional and undemocratic nature of this system of Senate reflects the perversity of Thai democracy, a regime in which the people does not hold the supreme power. This is why the period after the year 1976 is known as the era of “semi-democracy”

This era of semi-democracy founded its birth after the October 6th 1976 Coup d’etat. The National Reform Committee under the leadership of Admiral Sangad Chaloryu, invited Thanin Kraivichien to assume the position of Prime Minister and abrogated the 1974 Constitution, abolished the Parliament and elections, dissolved political parties and promulgated the provisional Constitution of 1976, written by the coup makers. The provisional draft stated that a new, permanent constitution be put in place as soon as possible, and that Thailand be propelled to genuine democracy within 12 years. The assumption behind the maker of this draft is that that the Thai people are not ready yet for democracy. The current set of appointed Senators is an imitation of the Senators from this period.

Various academics agreed that the appointed Senators are a display of the old regime and the  generals’ struggle to maintain their grip on the Parliament. When examined, It’s power, including the ability to control the country’s governance and its ability to appoint or remove leaders of independent agents, can be seen on par with the members of the House of Representative.

With such prominent power, it is of utmost importance to the old regime that it maintain its grip on the Parliament. According to the 2007 Constitution, the Senate can appoint leaders of the prominent independent agents, such as the NACC, The Election Committee or the National Human  Rights Commission.

At this point, there is great contradiction in the system of Thai politics. The appointed Senators are appointed by the 7 independent agents according to the 2007 Constitution, and in return these Senators appoint the leaders of the independent agents. To put this simple, this is a vicious self-reinforcing circle. The same group of people appoints each other to battle political opponents.

The public might wonder, with another half of the Senate elected, how can the House of the Senate not be democratic? The appointed Senators, it is said, are competent men, capable of running the country, a quality which might or might not be found in the elected Senators. This is a demeaning question, one that regards the people’s vote as contemptible. When we look into the work of the Senate, the passing of bills or the appointment of leaders of independent agents, it can be seen that the work is influenced by the appointed Senator’s will, and also by that of the anti-Pheu Thai Senators. At this crossroad, the power of the people can not be found in the Thai democracy.

appointed Senator, Paibul Nititawan, gave a speech claiming that appointed Senators, with the help of allied Senators, can topple the Yingluck government and the “Thaksin System”. They will come to the aid of the PDRC, propel Jaruwan Menthaka, former president of the Office of the Auditor General of Thaialnd, to the Bangkok Senator post.

This part of the speech starts from 12:48 and ends at 17:09 in the video clip.

Even senatorial election is insufficient to make Thailand democratic, when it does not truly make the Thai people the owner of the political power. This article seeks to clarify the hidden side, the unfair aspect, of the Thai democracy.

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