Recently, Suthep has upped his rhetoric and referred to the fact that the PDRC have sovereign power and will install a PM and a National Assembly. He made no reference to Section 7 and the Senate. See this morning’s post.

On April 6, Thai Rath quoted former Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombut as warning the PDRC about the powers of an Appointed PM under Section 7. Below is a summarized translation of what he said:

Nipit said that in relation to the PDRC leaders meeting throughout the country yesterday whereby they concluded to proceed with reform before election that he wishes to warn the PDRC leaders of the actions of the Yingluck government. If at the end, she needs to retreat whether this comes through leaving the position whether through an independent organization of resigning herself. Especially the warning is that that the government may block the way by quickly issuing a Royal Decree for the election. Then, if there is an proposal for a PM under Section 7 from the great mass of people [ie PDRC] then this PM under Section 7 won’t be able to do anything except for organizing an election within 60 days under the law. They won’t be able to reform first as the people want because they will be blocked by the Royal Decree and then once the election is organized then there will be a government from elections who will replace them. The period of this government will be very short. Therefore, the great mass of people and the PDRC leaders needs to be careful of the government’s trick otherwise the fight of 5 months of the protesters may come to nothing.

BP:  Nipit is not an outcast. He was a minor Minister in the Abhisit government (Culture Minister), but was made Deputy Leader of the Democrats for the South in December. Just a few days ago, he posted his support of the royalist Garbage Collection Organization – see Saksith’s post here for more details about them.

On Monday Thai Rath had an article where Nipit, who they state is in the legal team of the Democrats, expanded on these points which BP has summarized in a translation below:

The option to solve the problem for the government is 1. They will promptly issue an Royal Decree for an election before the Court or the independent organization issues an order for them to leave. If the whole Cabinet or just the PM, the government will want a Royal Decree to be in place whether specifying the election within 60 or 90 days as the EC specified in regards to their appointment to speak to 70 parties on April 22.

Some people talk about a PM under Section 7 and what powers they would have. If there is a Royal Decree on an election, the PM only has the power to organize an election [and] no more than that. Once you have found a Cabinet, the election would have happened. Don’t hope that a Section 7 PM can do this and that (นี่จะไปทำนู่นทำนี่ ). If they do, they will go to jail. Must organize an election only. A PM under Section 7 cannot cancel a Royal Decree for the election.

This is an issue that no one has spoken about, but I want to warn all and sundry that a PM under Section 7 that you will have no powers except the power to breathe. You can’t do anything. You can’t establish/appoint anything because you haven’t announced your policies to the parliament. When you haven’t announced your policies to the parliament, you can’t run the country. This is in accordance with the Constitution.

BP: Argh, had forgotten about. Section 176 of the 2007 Constitution:

Section 176. The Council of Ministers which will assume the administration of State affairs must, within fifteen days as from the date it takes office, state its policies and explanation for an implementation of the directive principles of fundamental State policies under section 75; provided that no vote of confidence shall be passed, and must, after giving such statement, prepare a plan for the administration of State affairs as guideline for the administration of State affairs for each year under section 76.

Before stating policies to the National Assembly under paragraph one, if there occurs a case of importance and necessary urgency which, if left delayed, will affect material benefits of State, the Council of Ministers which has taken office may, for the time being, carry out such acts in so far as it is necessary.

BP: You may remember back in October 2008 that the PAD tried to block the newly-installed Somchai administration from giving the policy announcement within 15 days.

The article continues:

For a PM under Section 7, the reds have questioned whether it is contrary to the Constitution or not. This is incomplete. Hypothetically speaking if the 35 or 36 member Cabinet was having a meeting in a foreign country and the plane exploded not leaving anyone alive then we can use Section 7. This is just an example. If like this then the Senate Speaker must Appoint a new PM and submit the new to the King. As soon as there is a new PM then they have to organize an election within 60-90 days. A PM under Section 7 is just for a short time period. They will have no powers. Then the election happens and it is over.

BP: Agree on this point. If there was a doomsday scenario and the entire Cabinet was killed then yes we would need some kind of interim government. If it was as of now when there was no parliament, it would have to fall to the Senate Speaker, but as he notes it would be a short-term government whose sole function was to act as caretaker until an election. Finally we have had someone address the issue of what powers an appointed government under Section 7 would have. BP blogged previously about this as couldn’t understand why an appointed government would have more powers than the current caretaker government (used as an argument in February that Yingluck should resign as caretaker government has limited powers and can’t do so and we could get an appointed government with full powers, but BP was sceptical of such arguments).

Of course, the Court could just allow an Appointment Government under exception though and allow them to rule in perpetuity as they are good people….

The article continues:

Do you know why they can’t find a PM under Section 7? No one is willing to be the one. If so and you sign anything when there has not been a policy announcement before parliament, you will go to prison. You won’t have the same powers as the old PM as you won’t come from an election. Therefore, there is a great risk you go to jail. Don’t ask me if I want to be a Section 7 PM . I am too afraid/not willing to be.

Hypothetically speaking, if the PM leaves office, there is no provision for this so it is problem. If there is no Royal Decree for an election then you get a PM under Section 7. Can they seek to delay an election? Hypothetically, they [if] delay an election for 1 year, just hypothetically, what would you do that? For reform)? If reform, how can you issue laws? When there is no House of Representatives, you cannot reform because laws must start from the House of Representatives. Laws cannot be allowed to originate from the Senate for sure.

BP: Section 142 of the 2007 Constitution states “….A bill shall be first submitted to the House of Representatives…..” so Nipit is correct. The Court could just ignore this though.

There is another alternative. The article continues:

Therefore, if we observe the fighting on each side that has gone before us, a Section 7 PM starts to disappear. They forget about Section 7 already. They start to “people’s revolution” (ปฏิวัติประชาชน) and “sovereign power” (รัฏฐาธิปัตย์). A PM from “sovereign power” is different from a Section 7 PM. A PM from a people’s revolution comes from sovereign power.

This is a PM from the seizing power (power given from the people who seized power) sure. The new PM who comes into office will claim that they have power from sovereign power. The first thing to do is the constitution because if there is a people’s revolution they will need to tear up the constitution. If a Section 7 PM, there is no need to tear up the Constitution.

It has no power. Therefore, economists and public law experts are starting to see that a Section 7 PM is a dead end and it cannot happen so they start to speak about “sovereign power” and then talk about a “people’s revolution“. If the new PM comes from a people’s revolution, they will have absolute power (อันนี้เบ็ดเสร็จ), but if from Section 7, they can’t do anything. So how will we know if the PM is from Section 7 or from a people’s revolution who has full sovereign power. Look at their origin. If from the Senate then from Section 7. If not from the Senate then it is from the people’s revolution, namely a PM will full sovereign powers from a people’s revolution. If they don’t tear up the constitution [for a PM from people's revolution] then they will go to jail.

BP: Now you say why all the talk about sovereign power as they start to realize the difficulties of a Section 7 PM so are aiming much bigger. Rip up the Constitution and write a temporary Constitution which gives you complete powers and well you can do anything…

The article continues:

The difficulties arising after you get the PM are two fold. First, a PM from a people’s revolution will result in a civil war. You will be a PM who cannot leave home. If you leave, you will get a M79 grenade. Within 3 days of being PM, your roof will be riddled with M79 grenades. This is the difficulty of a PM from a people’s revolution. If it is a PM from Section 7, it will be incomplete as the term in office will be short because they have to arrange an election, but it is not to the extent of a big crisis. These are the two options to choose.

NOTE: This is not a 100% word-for-word translation, but it is fairly close. Have tried to use the same terms that he uses, e.g. people’s revolution is not the term that BP would use to describe the PDRC seizing power, but it is the term that Nipit uses. This is a translation; not an endorsement of terminology. He talks about arranging an election. Facilitating is probably the actual government role as the EC really arranges the election and the government role is to facilitate this.

BP: Think it is fairly clearly as he repeats himself a bit.

First, PM from Section 7 would be voted on by Senate, but has very limited powers. Can only happen if there is a complete political vacuum. Cannot start reform as they don’t have law-making power. They are a lame duck who can’t do much.

Second, PM from a “people’s revolution” (a coup is the better way of putting this) will then have full powers as they tear up the Constitution and do whatever they want. No need for a Senate vote. This seems to be the option, at least based on the rhetoric, that Suthep is looking at. Suthep can call it a people’s revolution, but this would be a coup though. How are they going to rule? The reds will just acquiesce?