Opposition Says ‘Buddhist Party’ Move to Prayuth Unconstitutional

Image: People's Reform Party / Facebook.

BANGKOK — A pledge by an MP to dissolve his own party and transfer the votes he received at the poll to the government coalition was met with doubts and criticism on Friday.

Paiboon Nititawan, whose pro-Buddhism rhetoric raised eyebrows during the election campaign, said he will not only move to Phalang Pracharath Party, but also take the 45,000 votes with him to boost its numbers. An election regulator said the move must undergo legal review first, whereas the opposition said such action is downright unconstitutional.

“It is against the spirit of the constitution,” Pheu Thai deputy leader Samart Kaewmeechai told reporters. “There is no need for much thought in this at all.”

Samart said if Paiboon is allowed to simply pack up and bring his votes to Phalang Pracharath, it would also open doors for other smaller parties to be assimilated into big political factions.

“It cannot be done in the first place. It is impossible,” the Pheu Thai politician said. “Because this is about principles and spirit of the constitution.”

Paiboon is the sole MP of People’s Reform Party, which campaigned on a platform of “adapting Buddha’s teachings” to modern society.

He said earlier this week he wished to move to Phalang Pracharath and fully support Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as a coalition MP.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who also serves as a Phalang Pracharath advisor, confirmed to reporters Paiboon has submitted his application to join the party, but declined to discuss Paiboon’s plan of vote transfers.

When questioned by reporters yesterday, Election Commissioner Sawang Boonmee said he would have to review the current laws first before judging whether the move can be done.

Pheu Thai MP Suthin Khlangsaeng said if Paiboon’s proposal was made a reality, it would lead to a complicated situation where a by-election and a nationwide recount are necessary. He also called it “party poaching” by other names.

“It’s a severe violation of democratic principle,” Suthin said.

Even former Democrat MP Boonyord Suktinthai posted online that Paiboon’s action would amount to “betrayal” of those who voted for him in the March 24 election.

In response, Paiboon said today he may sue Boonyord for libel.