The Power GrabBy Bangkok Pundit Nov 07, 2007 12:01AM UTC
There is has been much commentary over how the new constitution takes power away from the people and puts it into the hands of the judiciary and bureaucrats. The Nation‘s editorial today has a legislative example:
Legislation sponsored by the Interior Ministry that seeks to wrest back control of local community leadership sailed through the National Legislative Assembly last week. The bill governing local administration at the village and tambon (subdistrict) levels will, when enacted, extend the tenure of village heads and kamnan, and change the criteria for qualification of candidates. Village heads will continue to be elected by local people but candidates will have to be vetted by a screening committee made up of representatives from local government and local communities before they can run for office. Kamnan, who were previously elected directly by the people at subdistrict level, will now be selected by an assembly of village heads chaired by the district chief, who reports to the provincial governor and Interior Ministry.
The tenure of the village head and kamnan, which was previously limited to a five-year term, will be extended until the office-holder reaches the mandatory retirement age of 60 years. However, village heads and kamnan will be subjected to performance assessment every one to five years to ensure they are fit for duty and that they abide by principles of good governance.
Under the local administration structure, the kamnan is the head of a tambon, or subdistrict, which is usually a cluster of villages each led by a village head. Critics say the new legislation will enable the Interior Ministry to wield excessive influence over the village heads and kamnan, and runs counter to the ongoing government decentralisation plan.
COMMENT: Wield excessive influence? People can only choose village heads who are “approved” and these village heads appoint Kamnan. It is a power grab plain and simple.