Rumour seen as diversionary tactic
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will not dissolve the House of Representatives and will carry on working until the end of this tenure, says government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.
Gen Prayut arrived at Government House yesterday to remotely chair a meeting of the Board of Investment via video conference.
Before the meeting, reporters grilled him on a rumour regarding the potential dissolution of the House after the Election Commission (EC) issued regulations related to the use of state resources and personnel that will affect future election results.
The regulations were published in the Royal Gazette on Monday and took effect the following day.
They state that if the cabinet is ordered to vacate office as a result of the term of the House of Representatives expiring or the House being dissolved, it will continue with its duties in line with the conditions set by the regulations until a new cabinet takes office.
However Gen Prayut refused to comment on the matter, leaving his spokesman to answer reporters’ questions.
Mr Thanakorn said he did not think the EC issued the regulations at this time because it was expecting any kind of political emergency.
He also denied speculation that the regulations were linked to the opposition’s move to seek a Constitutional Court ruling over a dispute regarding the eight-year limit on Gen Prayut’s premiership.
Asked to comment on the controversy surrounding Gen Prayut’s tenure, the army’s commander-in-chief Narongphan Jitkaewthae, said: “Don’t try to predict anything that no one knows.”
“We must pray for happiness and prosperity for the country. One should always think positively, for the benefit of the country,” he said.
Asked whether a new prime minister or change of government was likely after the next election, he merely replied: “Everyone will only carry on with their duties for the sake of the public.”
Yutthaporn Isarachai, a political scientist from Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said the rumour about the dissolution of the House may have been spread by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party to distract people’s attention from the controversy surrounding Gen Prayut’s tenure.
But he said Gen Prayut was unlikely to dissolve the House as this would do more harm than good.
This is because it is not known whether the 250 senators would still support him to return as premier amid mounting calls for him to step down.
“Dissolving the House would put him in a situation over which he has no control,” Mr Yutthaporn said.
Even if that were to happen before Aug 24 — a date some argue marks the end of his eight-year tenure — all petitions seeking a court ruling on this would be dropped automatically, he added.
And if Gen Prayut steps down, he would remain in a caretaker role for at least four months, which would give him time to host the Apec meeting in November, Mr Yutthaporn noted.
Moreover, if the House is dissolved, an election would have to be held within 45-60 days, he said. After that, a new prime minister would be chosen and a new cabinet formed, upon which royal endorsement would be required — processes that take one to two months.
“That would provide enough time for Gen Prayut to stay on in a caretaker role and host the Apec meeting,” Mr Yutthaporn said.
Jade Donavanik, a legal expert and former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee, said he doubted Gen Prayut would dissolve the House unless he was cornered in an extremely difficult situation.
“A House dissolution would mean defeat [for Gen Prayut]. This is not one of his characteristics,” Mr Jade said.
“I believe the rumour is meant to divert attention from the growing pressure on him to step down,” he added.