11 July 2024

The Move Forward Party has shifted its focus to the amendment of Section 272 of the constitution, to exclude senators from the prime minister voting process, after leader of the party, Pita Limjaroenrat, failed to become Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister on Thursday. 

Section 272 empowers the 250 senators to join the 500 members of the House of Representatives to vote for prime minister between 2019 and 2023. In the first bicameral vote in parliament, 159 senators abstained. It is, therefore, in Move Forward’s interest to remove senators from voting for prime minister.

Move Forward MP Parit Wacharasindhu said that the party will keep trying. “There will, of course, be constant conversation with the 7 other coalition parties. As the Move Forward Party’s secretary-general said, we will continue to fight and present new alternatives and solutions to ensure that we get out of this deadlock”.

Despite the difficulties associated with abolishing section 272, Parit said that Move Forward is confident that they can gain enough support from MPs and even senators to have the section removed. ‘’If you look at senators first, during the past 4 years, when there was a proposal to abolish Section 272, at least 60 voted to remove it. As for MPs, we’ve seen parties across the House supporting amendment of section 272,” Parit explained.

This is not the first time that Move Forward has submitted a motion to revise section 272. In September 2020, Move Forward, supported by the Pheu Thai Party, attempted to strip the senators’ off the power.

In an interview with Thai PBS World, former prime minister Anand Panyarachun also accused section 272 as being a source of political dilemma.

Anand emphasised that the clause must be removed from any new Constitution, adding that lèse majesté should be decriminalised as well, subjecting offenders to civil liability, with fines commensurate with the act committed.

This political pattern amounts to a short-term or superficial envisioning of the country’s problems, hence, the lack of understanding of the causes, according to Anand. Although Thailand wants to see peace and order, it cannot be imposed from the above or below, but it must be peace which all sides can discuss and upon which they can agree, he said, adding that he will not get involved with either side.

Full interview with Anand Panyarachun: 

https://www.thaipbsworld.com/former-thai-pm-anand-blames-section-272-of-the-charter-for-political-conflict/

By Franc Han Shih, Thai PBS World