Gov’t Petitioned to Reveal 400 Senate Nominees

Selection of Senate candidates in Korat on Dec. 22, 2018.
Selection of Senate candidates in Korat on Dec. 22, 2018.

BANGKOK — A legal advocacy group wants the junta to reveal the names of the 400 people short-listed to eventually be appointed senators.

Peerapat Meesang of the Internet Law Reform Dialogue, or iLaw, submitted a letter to junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday at the Government House asking for the disclosure of those candidates, who will be key to selecting the next prime minister.

That happened only after the straightforward request got the runaround for the better part of the day. Peerapat first went to the Election Commission before noon, where he was told the junta was in charge of the matter. Over at army headquarters, he was told to go to the Government House because deputy junta leader Prawit Wongsuwan was in charge of short-listing the candidates.

According to information reportedly leaked last week from an insider, many of the candidates are friends and contacts of Gen. Prawit, who also serves as deputy prime minister and is no stranger to controversy.

The petition cited public information laws to compel the release of “documents related to the selection of members of the senate.”

The junta has insisted it won’t reveal the names for now. iLaw’s Yingcheep Atchanont said transparency is needed as the senators will play an important role after the election by voting to select the next prime minister.

Prior to the 2017 constitution, the senate’s 76 members had no say in selecting the prime minister. Those who say the new charter rewrote the rules to perpetuate military rule cite its expansion of the upper house to 250 junta-appointed members empowered to vote for the next prime minister.

Under the law, all senators must be appointed no later than May 26.

Yingcheep said Tuesday that the Information Act gives the state 15 days to either disclose the information or justify its reason for not doing so.