Thailand’s state anti-corruption body on Tuesday indicted 36 senators for alleged misconduct in attempting to amend the constitution to make the Senate fully elected, which a court ruled was unconstitutional last year.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission found the senators had “misused their authority in violation of the constitution” and will forward the case to the Senate, commission Secretary-General Sansern Poljiak said.
The 36 senators will be suspended from their jobs while the Senate decides whether to impeach them, although most [BP: Actually, by BP’s count it will be “all” as all 36 were Elected Senators] will be replaced by recently elected lawmakers next month.
The indicted senators were among 308 current and former lawmakers charged by the anti-graft body for voting last year for a bill that would have changed the composition of the 150-member Senate, about half of which is appointed. The commission had previously indicted the House and the Senate speakers on charges of mishandling the parliamentary meetings on the charter amendment.
The bill was passed by the ruling party-controlled Parliament but was struck down by the Constitutional Court in November.
The Bangkok Post:
The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found what it calls a prima facie case against 36 former elected senators that could wind up with them barred from politics for five years.
The NACC’s finding of a prima facie case against the ex-senators also indicates the anti-graft body might proceed with similar charges against MPs who also voted for the draft amendment to the 2007 charter.
Like the senators, the MPs reached the end of their term when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the House last Dec 9. Just as in the case of the ex-senators, the real blow for them is a potential ban from politics
Many of the MPs facing possible NACC action are believed by political analysts to be likely leaders of a Pheu Thai Party campaign when a new election is called, with many also being groomed for leadership roles.
Legal experts said Tuesday the NACC appeared to focus on Section 6 of the draft amendment to the constitution. It would have allowed senators whose terms had expired to run again for another term, without a break.
Thai Rath focuses on Section 6 as well and refers to allowing Senators whose terms has expired to contest again without taking a break and that is changing their own power and that was a conflict of interest.
BP: Aside from the absurdity of the amendment being deemed unconstitutional on substantive grounds in the first place by the Court, the NACC decision continues the bizarre logic. In 2012, the Constitution Court advised against a complete rewrite with the setting up of Constitutional Drafting Assembly saying the amendments could be done section-by-section. Now, the National Assembly does this and Senators vote on the changes to the origin of Senators and the Court says it is a conflict of interest which poses the question, how can then change how Senators come into office when changes can be deemed a conflict of interest? Why wasn’t the constitutional amendment on the changes to the election of House of Representatives in 2011 also not considered unconstitutional?
However, if it is deemed a conflict of interest for Senators to vote on, this same logic cannot be used for MPs as they are not direct beneficiaries of the amendment. The NACC may find other grounds to find a prima facie case/indict them, but they will need new grounds…..