Tests, life ban proposed for MPs

House and Senate candidates should pass tests on basic political and public administration knowledge, while political offenders could be banned for life under new proposals from the military junta.

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These were among topics discussed at a seminar on national reform Wednesday.

Chaired by defence permanent secretary Gen Surasak Kanchanarat, the national reform forum on Wednesday focused on access to power and accountability.

It discussed the possibility of requiring elected candidates to pass a test on basic knowledge of politics and public administration and of making this one of their qualifications in the constitution. 

Another idea was to lift the statute of limitations on political offences and make the ban from politics last a lifetime instead of five years.

Another much-debated issue was whether an MP should belong to a party and whether they should be allowed to switch camps during parliamentary sessions.

An elections court was also proposed, so that the powers of the Election Commission would be limited to holding polls only. 

Another popular topic was whether to have one or two houses of parliament.

MP changes

Another idea floated was to separate duties so that MPs are strictly lawmakers and cannot join the government.

MPs can come from absolute majority vote in which the winner must have more than half the ballots and elections could be held more than once.

Popular vote ranking with a mix that includes a vote for a party can affect the number of constituency MPs a party gets.

On senators

The seminar discussed the pros and cons of appointed senators. It said while they could bring expertise to the Senate, they are not linked to the people.

On the other hand, elected senators, at the rate of one per constituency, are linked to the people but they do not represent all groups of society and can be influenced by politicians.

A mix of both was seen as not fair either because appointed senators have powers that are disproportionate to their source.

On removal from office

An idea floated was that to remove top people from the government, the legislature and judiciary, as well as independent bodies, a motion must be submitted to the senate speaker who will forward it to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation.

If more than half of the NAAC members vote that the case has grounds, that person must cease duties until the Senate passes a resolution. At the same time, the case will be submitted to the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders for further action. 

An MP and senator can be removed by not less than a quarter of their respective houses. Not less than 20,000 people can also sign a petition to propose a motion to the senator speaker.

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