Lawyer’s Council of Thailand misunderstands the Constitution on the role of the SenateBy Bangkok Pundit May 14, 2014 1:00PM UTC
The Lawyers Council of Thailand yesterday also supported the idea of appointing a new prime minister. It said in a statement that the Constitution’s Article 132 empowers the Senate to make such an appointment.
BP: Can’t find the statement from yesterday on their Web site, but they make this point in a statement on May 9 as per this statement (Word Doc).
Section 132 of the 2007 Constitution:
During the expiration of the term or the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Senate shall not hold its sitting except in the following cases:
(1) a sitting at which the Senate shall act as the National Assembly under section 19, section 21, section 22, section 23 and section 189, and the votes taken shall be based on the number of senators;
(2) a sitting at which the Senator shall consider of a person for holding office under the provision of this Constitution;
(3) a sitting at which the Senate shall consider and pass a resolution removing a person from office.
The King appoints the Prime Minister and not more than thirty-five other Ministers to constitute the Council of Ministers having the duty to carry out the administration of State affairs with collective accountability.
The Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Representatives appointed under section 172.
The President of the House of Representatives shall countersign the Royal Command appointing the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister shall not hold office for more than eight consecutive years.
The House of Representatives shall complete its consideration and approval of the person suitable to be appointed as Prime Minister within thirty days as from the day the National Assembly is convoked for the first sitting under section 127.
The nomination of a person who is suitable to be appointed as Prime Minister under paragraph one shall be endorsed by members of the House of Representatives of not less than one-fifth of the total number of the existing members of the House.
The resolution of the House of Representatives approving the appointment of a person as Prime Minister shall be passed by the votes of more than one-half of the total number of the existing members of the House of Representatives. The passing of the resolution in such case shall be by open votes.
BP: BP views that Section 132 of the Constitution is specifically for the purpose of setting limits on the role of the Senate in sitting once the House of Representatives has been dissolved. This is the reason why we only have an informal meeting by the Senate now as legally they cannot have a sitting to discuss matters. For example, Section 161 states:
Senators of not less than one-third of the total number of the existing members of the Senate have the right to submit a motion for a general debate in the Senate for the purpose of requesting the Council of Ministers to give statements of fact or explain important problems in connection with the administration of State affairs without a resolution to be passed.
The motion for the general debate under this section may be submitted only once in each session.
BP: This is not possible for the Senate to submit a motion for a general debate now as it is now allowed because Section 132 seeks to limit what the Senate can do during the period of the dissolution. Now, obviously Section 171 is not as important as what the Senate is allowed to do under Section 132, but without Section 132 there would not be these limits on the Senate. In fact, why does Section 132 exist except to limit when the Senate can sit?
Now you may say but BP Section 132(1) gives power to the Senate to act as the National Assembly but if you look at Sections 19, 21, 22, 23 and 189 of the Constitution they already give power to the Senate to act as the National Assembly. For example, Section 19 states “During the expiration of the term of the House of Representatives or the dissolution thereof, the Senate shall act as the National Assembly in giving an approval under paragraph one”. Sections 21, 22, 23 and 189 have similar provisions, but Section 172 does not. Because of the purpose of Section 132, it is difficult to argue that Section 132 empowers the Senate to have a sitting to appoint a PM.