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Critics wary of Thai junta chief's powers
Publication Date : 24-07-2014
Critics yesterday warned the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to exercise its power with moral soundness, as the provisional charter has given it "supreme power" over the judicial, legislative and administrative branches.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Provision 44 has provided the NCPO with unprecedented special powers independent of the prime minister and without checks and balances. The NCPO is empowered to issue laws, orders and even overturn court decisions.
"Article 17 promulgated in 1959 [by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat] provided him with the most absolute power to handle security threats. But Article 44 offers power beyond security, as it covers any activities carried out in the interest of reform and for the promotion of national reconciliation,'' he wrote.
Chulalongkorn University's political science lecturer, Trakul Meechai, believed it was common for coup-makers to maintain their power by stating it in the provisional charter until they achieved their ultimate goal.
Trakul said he believed the provisional charter was designed to plug loopholes in charters promulgated after the 1991 coup and the 2007 coup.
Critics say because of a lacuna in his charter, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin is believed to have lost power after he installed the Surayud Chulanont government. Sonthi, as a result, failed to accomplish his intended task of getting rid of Thaksin Shinawatra's influence.
Abhisit questioned the necessity of the council having legislative and judicial powers, as the NCPO members are already sitting on the National Legislative Assembly and the Reform Council.
He said there might be a discrepancy between Article 44 and Article 3 of the charter and he believed Article 44 violates the intention of Article 3.
"I hope the NCPO chief explains how is he going to exercise his power in accordance with Article 44 to create clarity and prevent conflicts and problems that may arise,'' he wrote.
Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said Article 44 is like a gun that can be used for self-defence and to protect or even to harm others.
Former charter drafter Komsan Phokong said Article 44 can either be a strength or weakness of the NCPO, depending on whether it exercises its power with moral sense or not. He said the NCPO might be subjected to criticism by international organisations if it exercises the power without caution.
Trakul also criticised the provisional charter on the mechanism to create effective corruption prevention and suppression. He said the law might be able to stop only people who have been convicted of corruption by all the courts but not those who are still on trial and have not been convicted or proven guilty of offences.
Nipit posted in his Facebook saying that he did not believe there would be a better charters than the ones in 1974 1997.
"These are the best and the most proud charters ever written but we have ruined them. We put a Mercedes engine into a Yanmar tractor and put a Yanmar engine in a Mercedes car,'' he said.