By Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong
In one of the most stunning, and disgusting episodes of Thai politics, Senators voted to reject all constitutional amendments from the opposition parties intended to undo the damage from the 2017 military-drafted constitution while the Governing Coalition hastily scrambled their amendments to reintroduce the voting system from the 1997 Thai Constitution.
With their track of records denying any attempt to democratize Thailand, as well as their wretched and disreputable demeanors, Thailand has no hope to ever change from within the system should the Senate still remain.
In the past two decades, the Senate has always been an elected body to a degree. Their composition, while including appointed members in their ranks at some points, still preferred to be more representative than any of their past variations. With a reasonable amount of powers directed towards the House of Representatives, their place within the legislative process went unquestioned for years. Even when the Senate was brought back after the 2007 military coup, the Senate maintained their quiet, and uninteresting existence for a while, until the Senate’s dissolution seven years later.
At this point, both houses of Parliament were replaced with military-appointed National Legislative Assembly, which to many standards, acted as the junta’s rubber-stamping body, the perception of which had been more or less retained by the present iteration of the Senate.
The Senate, in its present form, were appointed to include members of the conservative elites, mostly the so-called national intelligentsia, various ‘high society’ sycophants who supported the establishment, as well as large numbers of military officers, and accommodating for high-ranking police generals.
The argument behind such a hideous arrangement was to resemble, in one way or another, the British House of Lords, while maintaining powers to elect Prime Ministers, to veto any legislation they find unsuitable, as well as large influence to amend the Constitution. All of which was designed by the military junta to disrupt any attempt to dismantle their constitutional legacies, as well as protecting the interests of the conservative establishment to the highest order.
In the years leading to the crises in the present, the existence of the Senate has been repeatedly questioned by large numbers of Thai citizens. Their role in enabling Prayut Chan-o-cha to continue serving as Prime Minister has been more than controversial. Their chartered powers were, and still are considered to be ‘more powerful’ than that of the lower house, as well as being vocal in opposing any democratizing attempts either from the House of Representatives, and the people’s initiatives.
The idea of an ‘Honorable Senate’ could not have been more than a pipe dream. We come to see the Senate as a more disgusting form of legislative body. To that end, the idea of any upper house will never, ever gain fruition because of such tainted legacies left behind by these parasitic sycophants.
With their refusal to democratize, or to even speak of reform, the Senate has undoubtedly signed their death warrants for eternity.
About the author
Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong studies international relations at Mahidol University. He is now facing life imprisonment for allegedly endangering Her Majesty the Queen after attending an Oct. 14, 2020 anti-government rally when a royal motorcade drove by. He formerly led the Coalition of Salaya Students activist group at his university.