As Pheu Thai’s prime ministerial candidate Srettha Thavisin seeks to drum up more support for his nomination, he has pledged not to touch Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, aka. Section 112 of the Criminal Code which prohibits criticism of the monarchy or members of the Thai royal family.
The Move Forward Party’s vow to amend the controversial law to prevent it being used as a political tool, proved the main stumbling block to leader Pita Limjaroenrat becoming PM when the hand-picked Senators baulked at the amendments and refused to give him support in the PM vote.
The next vote of the joint Houses of Parliament is set for this Friday.
Yesterday, August 1, seeking to reassure conservative MPs and senators, Srettha issued a statement saying he has no intention of either abolishing or amending the law, if elected PM.
“If the Pheu Thai Party nominates me during the next round of parliamentary voting to select the prime minister, there will certainly be no amending of Section 112. Pheu Thai has made it clear that the law will not be amended or abolished. If we want to see the country move forward and a new government successfully set up, the Section 112 issue must be set aside.”
According to Srettha, his immediate focus will be on priority issues such as the economy and people’s livelihoods.
“Today, the issues of the economy and the people’s livelihoods are most important. What we have to do first is to make sure the people have enough to eat and that the economy improves.”’
The Thai Senate, whose members are appointed as opposed to elected, has the power to decide who becomes PM, thanks to a constitutional amendment put in place by the outgoing junta. The vast majority oppose any amendment to Section 112.
According to a Bangkok Post report, many senators have expressed their doubts about Srettha, citing past statements in which he allegedly said the law should be amended. A number of senators have stated that if this is the Pheu Thai candidate’s belief, he will not get their vote.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai MP and acting spokesperson Linthiporn Warinvacharoj says Srettha has already addressed the issue in an interview he gave on July 20.
“He said if Pheu Thai is given a chance to nominate a candidate for the position, the party must not touch Section 112 or it would not get support from the Senate and many other political parties.”
SOURCE: Bangkok Post