By Thai Newsroom Reporters
THERE HAS BEEN “no appropriate reason” so far for caretaker Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to dissolve the House of Representatives and call a general election anytime soon, commented Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam today (August 29).
The deputy premier categorically dismissed hearsay that the caretaker premier might probably dissolve the House in near future and send his Palang Pracharath Party of which he concurrently acts as top leader contesting the next election.
Wissanu admitted that the caretaker premier is legally empowered to dissolve the House but contended that there has been yet “no appropriate reason” for him to do so as speculated by the media.
Prawit is currently performing as caretaker head of government in place of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who has been ordered by the Constitutional Court to stop performing his prime-ministerial duties pending a court ruling, expected within next month, on his eight-year rule maximumly provided by law.
However, Prayut currently holds onto his defence portfolio which he has also assumed alongside the now-suspended premiership.
In his capacity as caretaker head of government, Prawit is not only legally empowered to dissolve the House but reshuffle cabinet seats and approve the annual reshuffling of high-ranking military and police officers, according to the deputy premier.
Though the caretaker premier could possibly dissolve the House at any given time, he would have to think it over very scrupulously, Wissanu commented.
Prawit himself has remained tight-lipped when asked by reporters to comment on possibilities of a House dissolution for which he might opt out, however.
In case that the Constitutional Court finally rules that Prayut’s eight-year tenure has already ended last Wednesday in accordance with clauses of the current constitution, the legislative branch will be legally obliged to promptly find someone to take his place.
Subject to votes of endorsement by MPs and senators would be the candidates for head of government earlier named by parties contesting a previous election in 2019. However, if none of those candidates secured yea votes from more than half the total of MPs and senators combined, an outsider such as Prawit who remains top leader of the largest coalition party could probably be voted as premier instead.
In the meantime, Wissanu said the Election Commission could legally issue regulations of its own to govern the next election or else the government could probably issue an executive decree for that matter, given the circumstances under which the constitution’s organic law pertaining to the nationwide election for MPs has been earlier aborted at parliament.
Regardless of possibilities of a House dissolution, a maximum four-year term provided by law for the Palang Pracharath-led coalition government is scheduled to end next March.
Meanwhile, Wissanu said there is no need for the caretaker premier to reshuffle his cabinet at the moment following the Supreme Court’s order for Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Wilawan to stop performing her duties pending a court ruling on a case earlier filed against her by the National Anti-Corruption Commission alleging that she has illegally encroached upon and occupied a lush forest land which is part of Khaoyai national park in Prachinburi since 2002.
The deputy premier in charge of legal affairs confirmed that all ministerial duties earlier assigned to Kanokwan are currently handled by Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong pending the court ruling on her misconduct charges.
His comments were apparently made in response to speculation that Prawit might probably reshuffle the cabinet to not only affect Bhumjaithai Party and Democrat Party but his own Palang Pracharath Party, core of the multiple-party coalition.
Prawit’s camp has so far left two cabinet seats unfilled since last year’s ouster of Thammanat Prompao and Naruemon Pinyosinwat from ministerial posts by Prayut, plus two others which might be immediately made vacant if Kanokwan who belongs to Bhumjaithai Party is ruled guilty as charged and Deputy Interior Minister Nipon Boonyamanee of Democrat Party is finally ruled guilty as charged in separate misconduct cases.
Top: Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. Photo: NNT
Front Page: Caretaker Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. Photo: Matichon