Scam senate selection

27 11 2018

Both the Bangkok Post and The Nation report on the scam Senate and its first day of seeking “applications.” Each report says that with Election Commission officials eagerly awaiting self-nominations, it was an exceptionally quiet day, with little interest from just about everyone.

Self-applications close on Friday afternoon.

No doubt, some readers will be asking what this is about. Under the military junta’s rigging of the whole process of creating a Thaksin Shinawatra-proof electoral and constitutional system, the current sham process is for those who wish to nominate as and “an independent candidate” for the new Senate and for those who want to “represent” one of the junta-selected functional constituencies.

How is this being done? In case readers have forgotten (as we had), go to Article 269 of the junta’s 2017 constitution, one of the so-called transitory provisions, which for five years increases the size of the Senate from 200 to 250 and makes every single senator a junta selection.

It is a complicated process that involves a “Senator Selection Committee consisting of not fewer than nine but not exceeding twelve persons appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order.” That junta committee nominates “no more than four hundred persons … and … present the list of names to the National Council for Peace and Order.”

The names to the junta’s vetting committee come from the current nomination process, covered by Article 107 of the constitution:

The division of groups shall be made in a way which enables every person having the right to apply for selection to belong to any one group. The division of groups, number of groups, and qualifications of a person in each group, the application and acceptance of application, the rules and procedures for selection among themselves, the acceptance of the selection, the number of Senators selected from each group, the listing of reserve candidates, the elevation of persons from the reserve list to fill the vacancy, and any other measures necessary to enable the selection among themselves to proceed honestly and justly, shall be in accordance with the Organic Act on Installation of Senators.

Let’s skip the reciting of the Organic Law for the moment, for in the end, The junta selects 50 and another 50 as “reserves” or “alternates.” This same junta then selects another 194 from the list of 400 names and then adds:

the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, the Supreme Commander, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force and the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, totaling two hundred and fifty persons.

If you are still with us, the junta has thereby selected 250 of the total of, well, 250. The wrinkle in this is the current process of nomination and self-nomination for the original list of 400, of whom 244 get a Senate position. The process after nomination  – for which there’s a long list of exclusions and requirements – begins at the amphur level and has vetting and selection at provincial and national level, all controlled by officials, before being considered by the junta’s selection committee.

In other words, the whole process is contrived, controlled and rigged by the junta so that it fills the Senate with its own people. For all of the complications involved in not electing senators, the outcome is going to be a chamber that reflects the junta and its desires and that will behave exactly like the puppet National Legislative Assembly. That is, as a chamber of mechanical Japanese lucky cats, all sticking their paws up at the same time, with the time being dictated by the junta.

Lucky for the junta but unlucky for the country.



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