The Thammasat University Student Union (TUSU) organized a protest on Wednesday (26 July) at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus against attempts by the Senate and the Constitutional Court to block Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat from becoming Prime Minister despite his party winning the election.
Effigies of Constitutional Court judges were placed inside a coffin before the lid was sealed. (Photo by Kotcharak Kaewsurach)
Student representatives gave speeches during the protest criticizing the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend Pita from parliamentary duties while it considers whether to disqualify him for holding shares in the now-defunct iTV broadcasting company, and its decision to accept a complaint filed against the Move Forward Party which claims that by campaigning to amend the royal defamation law it is attempting to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as the head of state.
The students also conducted several polls during the protest, including whether the Senate and the House of Parliament should vote for a Prime Minister candidate nominated by the majority in the House of Representatives.
At the end of the protest, students read a statement condemning the Court and other independent organizations for damaging the country, as well as the unelected Senate for obstructing democratic processes. They also said that the fact that no Prime Minister has been appointed since the election is an effect of the 2014 military coup.
Students flashing the three-finger salute while burning a copy of the 2017 Constitution. (Photo by Kotcharak Kaewsurach)
Among the protesters was Klui, the student president of the Faculty of Law. He said that he was disappointed that the winning party could not form a government and has to face several obstacles, showing that there is no democracy in the country.
Klui said that the Senate is the main obstacle preventing the winning party from forming a government, even though it has entered into a coalition with other parties, raising questions about why the 250-member Senate has more power than 14 million voters and why the Senate has to be involved in voting for a Prime Minister.
“I want to tell those in power, whether they are senators or the parties who are going to lead a government in the future, or the Constitutional Court who has the power to rule on things, I want to tell everyone who can hear this that what you all should consider most is the voice of the people, because we believe that the people hold the highest power in this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nat, another student, said that the real problem is that the Senate is blocking the country’s path forward. He said he is worried that there would be chaos if coup supporters join the government coalition, as people will protest and it would be awkward to work with these parties as speeches have been given in parliament during the past four years about their corruption.
“Should we forget the things they did? Even if politically they can join together, because they have been through the election, the people see it as inappropriate,” he said.
Nat said the Bhumjaithai Party should not be brought into the coalition. However, he said that the Senate is the real problem.
“We should pressure the right people. It’s not that Move Forward should back down or who Pheu Thai should work with. We should say that senators should stop blocking the country’s development,” he said.
“I want to tell the democratic side that they have to calm down and stand firm. Our goal is to form a legitimate and stable government, not to be cheated and senators have to stop blocking democracy.”