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Prayut fan keeps his distance

Former senator Paiboon Nititawan, who makes it clear he will set up a political party which will back Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as the next premier after the election, has insisted he is not collaborating with the regime to pursue the move.

politics, military,

Bangkok Post

Monday 25 December 2017, 09:01AM

Ex-senator Paiboon Nititawan, former member of the junta's defunct National Reform Council, now chairs his own National Reform Network. He insists he is not collaborating with the regime to push for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to return as premier and head of a pro-military political party in case there is ever a general election. Photo: Bangkok Post / Somchai Poomlard
Ex-senator Paiboon Nititawan, former member of the junta's defunct National Reform Council, now chairs his own National Reform Network. He insists he is not collaborating with the regime to push for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to return as premier and head of a pro-military political party in case there is ever a general election. Photo: Bangkok Post / Somchai Poomlard

Several months ago, Mr Paiboon petitioned the prime minister and the National Legislative Assembly president to seek a level playing field between old and emerging parties in their preparations for the next general election. He called for the amendment of the organic law on the parties to address the matter.

He reasoned if the organic law were not amended, members of existing parties would not have to pay fees for the party membership they hold, which contradicts the constitutional principle that members claim co-ownership of their respective parties, said Mr Paiboon, who is also an ex-member of the defunct National Reform Council.

Members of emerging parties, on the other hand, must pay the fee, which is unfair to them, according to Mr Paiboon.

Following his petition, Gen Prayut invoked the powerful Section 44 order to cancel people's membership of all parties last week. Members must now submit letters confirming their membership to the party leaders and pay membership fees by April next year.

The order was criticised as allowing members of existing parties to switch to other parties and a military-backed party, which may be set up in the near future, would be able to court these people.

A political source said this has led to concerns Mr Paiboon and Gen Prayut may be working together behind the scenes in a move to enlist members from other parties with the aim to support Gen Prayut to return as prime minister after the election.

Mr Paiboon announced to the public on Aug 9 last year he would form a political party that supports Gen Prayut to return as premier. He told the Bangkok Post recently that his determination is still unwavering.

As the founder of the new party he plans to set up, and which still does not have a name, Mr Paiboon said his party will ideologically focus on conserving Buddhism, reforming politics and empowering people.

In terms of the party's as candidate for prime minister, the person must be capable and with integrity, and the party regards Gen Prayut as the most qualified candidate, according to Mr Paiboon.

The former senator said he would propose Gen Prayut as candidate among the founders of his party, adding his party would represent other like-minded people who support Gen Prayut as the next leader.

He noted it would be best if Gen Prayut refrained from setting up a military party or pledging outright alliance to any party before the poll because such a practice would mean he is no longer politically neutral.

After the next general election, the House of Representatives will convene to vote for a prime minister from among the choices advertised during election campaigns by the parties which win MP seats.

Even if Gen Prayut refuses to be his party-advertised candidate for premiership, Mr Paiboon said his party would nominate the general to be premier in the second round of voting between the MPs and senators, if the MPs alone could not reach a consensus on the premiership.

Mr Paiboon said he believed Gen Prayut might not put his name forward as a candidate in his party's quota.

He insisted he did not know Gen Prayut personally. "I will try not to associate with him, either," Mr Paiboon said.

"This makes me different from others who try to approach those who have power.

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"I think that I should make my principle clear."

He had not talked to Gen Prayut about the matter, saying "if the talks had been held, this would show we have allied or common, vested interests."

The former senator said he would disagree if Gen Prayut were to form a party of his own, saying the premier would lose his political neutrality and such a party would be automatically regarded as the military party.

If Gen Prayut resorted to operating his own party, Mr Paiboon said he would sound out his party members whether they would still support Gen Prayut's return as prime minister.

"We do not want Gen Prayut to be involved with a military party as he would be no different from other party leaders," said Mr Paiboon.

Mr Paiboon also revealed he supported Gen Prayut to become the prime minister after then premier Yingluck Shinawatra was disqualified by the Constitutional Court on May 7,2014 when it ruled that her 2011 transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri to an inactive post in the PM's Office was unlawful.

The former senator said Suthep Thaugsuban, then leader of the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee, which rallied against the Yingluck government, came to talk to senators and he said at that time that he would support Gen Prayut, who was army chief at the time, to become the new premier through appointment by the Senate.

Mr Paiboon said he disagreed with calls made by veteran politician Somsak Thepsuthin, who said the charter should be amended to allow MP candidates to run as independents without being allied with political parties.

He said Mr Somsak's views are not based on political and legal terms since the charter, which sets rules on the qualifications of MPs, was passed in the referendum and promulgated.

Mr Somsak's proposal was not practical and could spark conflicts, he noted.

Mr Paiboon said some party leaders accused him and Mr Suthep of siding with Mr Somsak's idea.

The accusation has damaged his reputation, Mr Paiboon said, adding he wanted the next poll to take place in November next year, as stated by Gen Prayut, without any further delay.


Inquirylines, published bi-weekly on Mondays is a Bangkok Post column to present in-depth details of a range of issues from politics and social interest to eye-catching everyday lives.

See the original story here.



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