By The Sunday Nation
The Thai economy will take a hit if international confidence in the country’s return to democracy is negatively affected by any delay in holding the general election slated for November, several former lawmakers have warned.
Nikorn Chamnong, a former member of Parliament and a member of the National Reform Steering Assembly, said the likely 90-day postponement of elections also ran counter to the intent of the current charter’s Articles 267 and 268.
He said the charter already allowed a total of 150 days for authorities to prepare for the elections so there should not be any further delay.
In addition, he said, supporters of the current charter who had exercised their right in the August 7, 2016 referendum would also be hurt, as they were expecting the general election to be held as announced.
Nikorn warned that a delay would lead to more public criticism of the National Council for Peace and Order (NPCO), since it would be seen as attempting to hold on to power.
He said a delay in the election would tarnish the image of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and he urged members of the National Legislative Assembly to oppose any attempts to postpone it.
Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, a member of the Election Commission (EC), also warned that the likely delay did not bode well for the country’s future, even though it would be acceptable if there were good reasons for the postponement.
He said political parties should have expressed their lack of preparedness for the polls in order to justify the 90-day delay. If more time was needed to prepare for the election, it would be the EC’s duty to clarify the situation, he said, noting that if the NCPO were not ready for the polls they should go public to explain the decision.
Overall, he said, a further delay would not be good for the country’s image because the Thai public and foreigners had been told all along the general election would take place around November this year.
Ong-art Karmpaibul, a deputy leader of the Democrat Party, said the likely delay in holding the election by another 90 days is not surprising as there have been reports that a new political party was being set up for the powers-that-be to return to power.
According to Ong-art, the strategy is to use the new party to attract former MPs from existing major and other smaller political parties and it will support the NCPO head’s return to power.
As a result, more time is needed to make such an arrangement to achieve the goal.
In addition, he said, the NCPO had not lifted a ban on political parties’ activities even though the political party law has been effective for several months.
The NCPO chief also has exercised his power under Article 44 to impose tougher conditions on members of political parties in order to shake up the voters’ base of major parties, he said, cautioning that the latest move could lead to a lack of legitimacy for the new government following the general election.