Unelected and unrepresentative

29 05 2013

As the constitutional amendment debate heats up once again, the yellow-shirted allies including the Democrat Party and a range of ultra-royalists are coming together to parrot their opposition. This is an alliance that has remained largely unchanged since 2005 and which has not changed its stance on the junta-initiated constitution since 2007.

Interestingly, one of the key yellow groups has been the mainly unelected “Group of 40 Senators.” Outspoken, ultra-royalists aligned with the most right-wing groups  and the military, this group is critical in opposing constitutional change and maintaining anti-democratic political positions.

In doing this, they protect themselves. At The Nation, it is reported that the unelected junta spawn senators oppose “efforts to amend the Constitution to require all senators to be elected…”.  Elections are anathema for this group as they know that elections reject royalists like themselves.

While “checks and balances are required, this undemocratic lot have shown little tolerance for elections or for the parties elected. In fact, they have repeatedly denigrated the electorate as “buffaloes” and “uneducated.” Far from being “independent,” these senators have acted as if they are nothing more than the extremist wing of the Democrat Party.

One of these extremists, Rosana Tositakul, explains that:

…  the Group of 40 Senators … was formed in 2008 when senators, who were opposed to charter amendments, held a meeting. That day, 40 senators joined the meeting so the group took the name of the Group of 40 Senators…. Since the group was formed, their members have had luncheon meetings every month by using birthdays of group members for the dates for get-togethers. They often discuss current issues. Senator Paibul Nititawan coordinated and scheduled the meetings.

Rosana, who has a middle-class NGO background, embraces the royalist-military perspective on the Senate:

Senators should come from several professions. Since critics say appointed senators were selected by only a seven-member panel, I would like each profession to nominate a representative qualified to be a senator to be elected by the people, so that they will not be attacked as not being accountable to the community….

These critics should not neglect the experience of  elected upper houses in other countries. Elected senators can be critical. This was demonstrated for Thailand when an elected Senate provided a base for a critical group that repeatedly challenged the then Thaksin Shinawatra government.



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