By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN
30 new NLA members to be appointed to work on organic laws.
CHARTER DRAFTERS yesterday decided to exclude the Senate from a role in nominating candidates for prime minister but the Upper House will be eligible to vote with MPs to select the premier.
Candidates would be nominated by MPs and picked from the lists proposed by political parties, said Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit. In the case of deadlock, in which the lists would be waived based on a two-thirds vote of the joint Parliament, MPs would still reserve the right to nominate other prime ministerial candidates, from the party lists or otherwise.
Senators will not have a role in nominating candidates in either case.
The Senate’s role in selecting the premier became controversial after voters approved the additional question proposed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in the referendum earlier this month. Some NLA members then advocated that the Upper House be allowed to nominate candidates for the post in addition to voting for candidates proposed by the party lists.
Meanwhile, the government plans to appoint 30 additional legislators to sit in the NLA, which is currently comprised of 220 members, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday.
The newcomers would help to finish a backlog of work as well as to deliberate 10 organic laws after the new constitution draft comes into effect, he said. He added that there was not a hidden agenda.
The appointment would be made by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Wissanu said.
The new members would leave office with the other NLA members when the assembly is dissolved after the next government takes office, Wissanu said, adding that the interim constitution of 2014 would be amended to allow the additional 30 members to take their seats.
The process would take about one month to finalise, he said.
The NLA, which was established after the NCPO coup, has deliberated on more than 200 laws since it took office in July 2014, according to a work summary published in the Royal Gazette website in November 2014. Each NLA member receives a monthly salary between Bt113,560 and Bt125,590, as stipulated by a decree published in November 2014 on position allowances and other benefits for office holders under the 2014 interim charter.
Early in 2015, the assembly was rocked by a scandal as scores of its members allegedly hired family members as assistants who received monthly salaries of Bt15,000 to Bt20,000. Most of the controversial assistants resigned from their posts after the scandal erupted.
Surachai Liengboonlertchai, NLA vice president, said he was worried people would perceive the appointment of the additional legislators as a way for the current regime to retain power. He opposed the move in a joint meeting between the Cabinet, the NLA and the National Reform Steering Assembly yesterday, Surachai said, adding that any questions should be addressed directly to the government.