BANGKOK — PM Prayuth Chan-ocha left a parliament debate on Wednesday without explaining why he did not recite the oath of office to His Majesty the King in July as mandated by the constitution.
Although Prayuth did take the floor several times during the hours-long session, he never addressed the incomplete oath, which the opposition said amounted to constitutional violations. His deputy Wissanu Krea-ngam said Prayuth did not violate any law because the oath was a matter between him and His Majesty the King.
“Swearing in ceremony was a matter between the government and His Majesty the King, as described in Article 161 of the Constitution,” Wissanu told the parliament. “It was an affirmation of trust in the person who utters the oath.”
His address echoed a recent court ruling which dismissed complaints against Prayuth because the oath was an interaction between the government and the monarch.
“The government might have done a mistake, the prime minister might have done a mistake,” Wissanu said. “But it cannot be called a mistake because the Constitutional Court’s ruling says the oath was an interaction between the Cabinet and His Majesty the King.”
Prayuth did not mention the controversy when it was his turn to address the parliament. Instead, he gave a long speech on government spending, before leaving the assembly at about 4pm. He refused to answer media questions about the oath.
Article 161 of the 2017 Constitution says each member of the Cabinet must recite the words following words in front of His Majesty the King upon taking office:
“I, (name of the declarer), do solemnly declare that I will be loyal to the King and will faithfully perform my duties in the interests of the country and of the people. I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect.”
For reasons still unknown, Prayuth skipped the last line in the July ceremony.
Opposition politicians say the omission is unacceptable because it is in direct violation of the constitution.
Seri Ruam Thai Party leader Sereepisut Temiyavet, whose feud with Prayuth erupted into a spectacular war of words in July, called upon the prime minister to show his responsibility by quitting.
“I leave this message to you as a roon pi (senior classmate). Even though the Prime Minister cut his ties with me, I don’t cut ties with him,” Sereepitsut said.
Future Forward Party sec-gen Piyabutr Saengkanokkul said it was Wissanu who stressed in a law textbook he authored himself that oath of office must be recited in full to avoid any legal challenge.
“I’m not sure if the Prime Minister will dare take responsibility for his action,” Piyabutr said. “If he took the responsibility since that day, the problem would have been a small issue and quickly solved.”