Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam: Election delay may be just for a month or so. (File photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Tuesday he believed a general election would be postponed by just a month in the worst-case scenario.
His remark followed speculation the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will vote to delay enforcement of the organic bill on MPs.
The delay in enforcement of the bill might result in the election being postponed until February 2019. It was earlier tentatively scheduled by the prime minister for November this year.
While stressing nothing was set in stone and the bill had yet to be examined by the NLA, Mr Wissanu said the election could still take place as scheduled or if it is delayed, it would be a month or so behind schedule.
He insisted that there must be acceptable reasons if the bill’s enforcement needs to be postponed.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha distanced the government from the issue, saying the NLA and the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) would have to work on it and he would not interfere.
“It’s up to them to consider. If they have other deliberations to make, they should listen to each other because we all mean well for the country. As for the proposed delay in the enforcement of the organic bill, it should comply with the charter,” he said.
According to the constitution, an election must be held within 150 days of the required laws, including the MP election law, being promulgated.
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Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said the government had nothing to do with the issue which falls within the jurisdiction of the NLA.
“The elections aren’t postponed. The government has done nothing. It is the NLA who makes the laws and if we get involved we are criticised,” he said.
Gen Prawit assured the government would ensure public safety when asked about the possibility of a delay in the poll stirring up dissent.
Speculation about the delay in the enforcement of the organic bill became rife after the majority of the NLA panel vetting the bill voted last Friday for it to be effective only 90 days after it is passed and published in the Royal Gazette, instead of immediately.
Mr Wissanu also said it was too early to say if the election would be delayed because there is a long process awaiting the bill which would be tabled for second and third readings tomorrow.
“Like I said over the past few days, it doesn’t mean the road map will be affected. There are several factors. There is a chance the election will take place as scheduled or be pushed back.
The NLA may not vote in favour of the changes made to the bill by the scrutiny committee, Mr Wissanu said, adding that the CDC and the Election Commission (EC) can still give their opinions on the bill after its passage.
If the CDC and the EC have different views, a tripartite joint committee will be set up to iron out differences and revisions can be made to the bill if the joint committee agrees, he added.
“From what I’ve read in the press, two members of the NLA scrutiny panel have proposed a 120-day delay. We don’t know how the NLA will vote,” he said.