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Avoid political trap, Suriyasai warns PM

Avoid political trap, Suriyasai warns PM

SUNDAY, August 28, 2016

FORMER social activist Suriyasai Katasila yesterday warned Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to avoid political pitfalls and urged him review his and the junta’s performance to see if they could steer the country towards reform and ensure society won’t be

“I hope the premier will not fall into the trap of political parties [who are calling for him to form his own party and run in the next election]. 
“The suggestion is a political trap that has killed several generals in the past,” said Suriyasai, the deputy dean of the College of Social Innovation at Rangsit University.
The country’s two major parties – Pheu Thai and Democrat – had suggested that Prayut set up a political party and be its candidate in the coming election.
Last week, he offered to serve as PM after the next election via “graceful” means. 
Some members of the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) have shown support for Prayut to be the next leader. Suriyasai said the parties’ suggestion was a useless and old-fashioned discourse from old politics, which struckstuck to an election format and was part of political failure.
Many political blocs have recently tried to drag Prayut into joining their team and the junta head might get sucked into playing politics rather than focusing on reforming the country, he said.
Prayut should put the reform plan into action before the next general election, as he has gained overwhelming support from many people.
His popularity will soon fade but his achievements would be enduring. The country might not overcome polarisation, as no political party has begun to reform itself. They’re engaging in arguments regarding an outsider premier, he added. 
Sompong Sakawee, an NRSA member, said it was possible for the junta chief to set up his own party because many of his supporters have recently sought advice from Sompong on how to prevent history repeating itself if the military really wants to start a party.
In 1992, the military-backed Samakhitham Party fell out of public favour and was opposed by the pro-democracy movement after it supported coup chief General Suchinda Kraprayoon as the premier.
If Prayut formed a military-leaning party he could attract 4 million to 5 million members and win the next election, he said.
Former Democrat MP Wirat Kalayasiri said it would not be easy for an outsider to become prime minister because the selection process will have to abide by the constitution and the political situation is unpredictable. 
However, Wirat, the party’s legal adviser, said the selection of a premier starts from the Lower House, which proposes a list of candidates. 
If a candidate wins the vote of the combined houses, the race for premier is over. If it doesn’t end there, the next steps should also follow the charter.
At least half of the 500-seat Lower House has to call a joint meeting of houses. Two-thirds of Parliament members will have to waive the PM candidate list.
Then the House will have to nominate another premier candidate and Parliament will again have to elect one with the approval of at least 376 members.