1992 Uprising Activists Protest Unelected PM Charter Clause

Soldiers detain protesters on Ratchadamnern Avenue in Bangkok, 18 May 1992

BANGKOK — Former activists who participated in the uprising against an unelected Prime Minister in 1992 have voiced their opposition to a clause in the junta's new charter that will allow for an unelected PM to take control in the event of a political crisis.

The Group, which included some relatives of those killed in the 1992 crackdown, submitted a letter of protest to the chairman of the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) at the Parliament House today.

Adul Kiewboriboon, who heads the May 1992 Committee and organized today's protest, said the group is concerned that the draft of the new charter will not require Prime Ministers to be elected MPs.

According to the CDC, the removal of the requirement is intended to allow for an “outsider” Prime Minister, chosen by MPs, to take charge and break a deadlock in the event of a political crisis. The drafters have not specified what would constitute a political crisis. 

This move marks a departure from Thailand's recent constitutions, such as the 2007 charter dissolved by the junta last May, which have explicitly required Prime Ministers to be elected MPs.

Adul expressed concern that this opening will allow members of the current junta to "perpetuate their power" by convincing the parliament choose them as Prime Ministers in the post-coup government. The junta, known officially as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has promised to hold an election next year.   

"It raises suspicion among some parts of the society that it will open up a channel for the perpetuation of power," said Adul, "The May 1992 Committee disagrees with such direction, because it contradicts with the legacies of the martyrs of May 1992." 

The 1992 uprising, known as the Black May, came a year after Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon staged a coup in 1991 and ordered the drafting of a new constitution that allowed non-MPs to serve as Prime Ministers.

After a Prime Minister elected by the people in 1992 was disqualified because of a legal complication, a coalition of parties in parliament appointed Gen. Suchinda to lead the government, despite his earlier insistence that he would not engage in politics. 

A month later, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Bangkok to protest Gen. Suchinda’s return and demand an elected Prime Minister. Gen. Suchinda responded by launching a military crackdown that lasted for two days and left more than 50 people dead. His Majesty the King eventually intervened and ordered both sides to cease the confrontation. Gen. Suchinda resigned from his position on 24 May. 

During his meeting with CDC chairman Bowornsak Uwanno today, Adul said he was not convinced by the CDC's insistence that the unelected PM clause would only be used as an "emergency exit" for a crisis.

"It conflicts with democratic governance, and it may end up starting a new round of conflict," Adul told Bowornsak. 

Responding to the complaint, Bowornsak said the clause may be amended in the future, as the CDC is still gathering opinions from the people.

"The drafting of the new charter is still in its first stage. It's not finalized," the CDC chairman said.

Related coverage:
CDC's Poll Shows Lack of Support for Unelected PM
Bipartisan Alarm Over Junta's 'Anti-Politician' Charter

 

 

 
 
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