Senators Reconsider Support for MFP Pita’s Prime Ministerial Bid

A number of senators have reconsidered their decision, expressing they will no longer support Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the Move Forward Party (MFP), in his pursuit of the prime minister position.

The senators are voicing concern over the party’s proposed policies, notably the intended amendment to the ‘lese majeste’ law and alterations in foreign policy.

Although they had originally committed to voting for him, it seems they have experienced a change of sentiment because of the party’s intent to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law. The MFP is determined to advocate for this change.

Senator Prapan Koonmee indicated, “One of the main reasons … is that he is seeking to amend Section 112 as well as reform the monarchy.” He also expressed concern about the MFP’s foreign policy approach, suggesting it could “pose a danger to the country.”

“In Thailand, we are a friend to every country. If Mr Pita comes to power, the shift in foreign policy would lean towards a specific superpower,” he further elaborated.

“Let alone the complaints questioning Mr Pita’s eligibility due to his [former] shareholding in iTV Plc.”

He also revealed that the MFP has been accused of intending to topple the constitutional monarchy, citing a petition lodged by attorney Theerayut Suwankesorn with the Office of the Attorney-General.

Mr Theerayut argued that the MFP’s stand on Section 112 violates Section 49 of the constitution.

Inside sources from the parliament indicated that 24 senators were queried about their support for Mr Pita in the forthcoming joint parliamentary session scheduled for July 13.

This includes 14 senators who had earlier pledged their vote for him.

On Thursday’s inspection, eight senators highlighted their concern with the proposed amendment to Section 112, while five voiced they would vote for Mr Pita, following the majority decision of the House.

Another group of nine stated they will make up their minds on the voting day itself, and two declined to comment, according to the same sources.

Senator Weerasak Futrakul said he wishes to evaluate if the MFP’s policies align with the country’s welfare before making a final decision.

AVC Chalermchai Krea-ngam, another senator, mentioned he will primarily consider national interest and security.

Senator Chalermchai Fuengkhon confessed that he had initially decided to vote for Mr Pita, but has since reconsidered due to the issue with Section 112.

“If Mr Pita agrees to back down from that bid, I am ready to vote for him,” he mentioned.

He also disclosed that MFP representatives have been lobbying senators for votes for Mr Pita, but most are likely to decide shortly before the July 13 vote.

Senator Songdet Samueakham pledged his vote for Mr Pita, yet he recognized that Mr Pita may not gain enough support to successfully secure the prime minister role.

“Mr Pita should step forward and declare that he will leave Section 112 alone. This is the only way for him to become prime minister,” Mr Songdet suggested.

A crucial vote will occur during a joint session of MPs and senators on July 13.

According to the constitution, the 250 senators appointed by the now-dissolved coup orchestrator, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), have the right to join MPs in electing a prime minister in parliament.

This will be the last opportunity for these senators to participate in the election of a prime minister. Post the 2019 elections, they joined MPs to vote for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to continue his tenure as premier.

The constitution specified that the Senate is only permitted to serve a five-year transitional term after the 2019 elections. This term will conclude in May next year.