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The people of Thailand deserve, and voted for, a real democracy, Southeast Asian parliamentarians say

19/07/2023

The people of Thailand deserve, and voted for, a real democracy, Southeast Asian parliamentarians say

JAKARTA – Ahead of the second vote for the Thai Prime Minister, members of parliament from across Southeast Asia stand in solidarity with the Thai people and call for reforms that would ensure the establishment of a real democracy in Thailand. 

The eight-party coalition that has nominated a prime minister candidate won a combined total of nearly 27 million votes in the general elections in May. This is over 70% of the total votes cast. In any real democracy, there would be no doubt on who would be able to form a new government. Unfortunately, the existing rules have been designed to protect the military’s role in politics and governance, thwarting any attempt at genuine reform,” ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Co-Chairperson and former Malaysian member of parliament Charles Santiago said today.

The current Thai constitution was adopted in 2017, following a military coup in 2014. Under the constitution, the Thai parliament is bicameral, with a 250-person Senate that is effectively appointed by the Royal Thai Military. Any effort to amend the constitution requires the backing of at least one-third of all senators.

The actions of the vast majority of the senators in the last prime minister vote show their utter disregard and lack of respect for the will of the people, which was communicated very clearly in the ballot box.  It is evident that the immense power given to these unelected senators is at odds with any definition of a real democracy. Many Thais are understandably angry that their votes seem to count for nothing. Thailand’s constitution must be reformed, and any new government must make it one of their first priorities.” said Santiago.

We once again urge all members of the Thai parliament to consider their duty to the people and the greater good of Thailand when they cast their vote for prime minister. Further attempts to block the formation of a new government by the winning parties would only lead to unrest and instability,” said Santiago. “We also call on the Thai authorities to respect protesters’ right to assemble and peacefully express their political opinions and refrain from any excessive use of force.”

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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