A well known web commentator at several sites, including Prachatai, robinlea, raises a very interesting question at his blog regarding appointed senators. Essentially robinlea asks if the re-appointment of senators is constitutional under the 2007 constitution. Based on the the information at the blog, the question is an important one. The constitution states:
Section 117. Membership of the senators acquired on the election basis commences on the election day and membership of the senators acquired on the selection basis commences on the day the Election Commission publishes the result of the selection.
The term of membership of the senates is six years as from the election day or the day the Election Commission publishes the result of the selection, as the case may be, and no senator shall hold office more than one term.
PPT guesses that the answer might have something to do with the number of years the re-appointed senators have already served. But, then, the wording relates to term, not years. The Bangkok Post clearly states: “Thirty of the new senators served among the previous group of appointed senators, and were re-appointed.”
So is JFL correct and these 30 senators are illegally, unconstitutionally appointed? Does this mean that all the elite members of the courts and other high bodies that appointed them should now be jailed in the manner of the election commissioners in 2006?
PPT’s earlier post has more details on the appointments.
Update: Our readers have provided the answer and it seems that reappointment is permitted: “Section 297. At the initial stage, selected senators shall hold office for a period of three years as from the date of the commencement of membership and the provisions prohibiting the holding of office for a period longer than one consecutive term shall not apply to such persons in the next selection subsequent to the termination of membership.” One reader reminds us: “The reason why many of these appointed senators resigned on the day of the end of their term was that they wanted to avoid the constitutional question whether they are eligible for selection – any state office holders are not eligible, and as senators they would have hold an office.”
Another reader adds that an official version of the constitution puts it this way: “Section 117. … Membership of a senator shall be for a term of six years as from the election day or the date of the publication by the Election Commission of the result of the selection, as the case may be. A senator may not hold office for more than one term consecutively.” The reader adds that the word “consecutively” may be significant.