Today, December 2nd, 2020 is D-Day in a much anticipated ruling by the Thai Constitutional Court regarding a high profile case involving the Thai Prime Minister allegedly staying in military housing past his retirement.
The case was filed back in March by the main Opposition Party, Pheu Thai, after the issue had previously been raised during a debate in February.
The case revolves around the issue of the home of Prime Minister Prayut Chan O’Cha who stays at a residence inside the 1st Infantry Regiment and has resided there since before 2014, when a military coup led by Prayut took over the country.
Opposition MP’s claim the Prime Minister staying at the residence free of charge has broken army regulations and violates the Constitution. They claim he should have vacated the premises in September of 2014 when he retired from the Thai military.
The Thai Army, meanwhile, says that the house where the Prime Minister stays is not a “so-called” welfare house provided free of charge to top military brass but is a “visitors house” and legally classified as a guesthouse. They also have stated, along with the PM’s own statement, that the Prime Minister resides at the location primarily for security as he is also the Minister of Defense. The Army also stated that those who have “contributed to the country” may stay on in military housing even after retirement on a case by case basis evaluated by Army leadership.
The Pattaya News notes that retired generals staying in army residences after retirement is not limited to the Prime Minister. Reportedly dozens of other retired generals also do so including some still in political roles such as General Prawit Wongsuwon and Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda . If the Prime Minister is found to have violated the constitution by allegedly having a conflict of interest this case could also have a much wider legal precedent for many other retired military members who are now in politics.
Should the Prime Minister be found guilty he may have to vacate the position of Prime Minister and his Cabinet could be invalidated. Political experts are divided on what the Constitutional Court will rule and depends primarily on if they take a strict conservative view of how the Constitution is written or a broader and more liberal perspective.
The decision is expected after 3:00 PM this afternoon. The Pattaya News will be reporting the decision as it comes in. Pro-Democracy protesters, meanwhile, are massing at the Lad Phrao intersection this afternoon to await the verdict as well. One of their major demands of the government was the removal or resignation of the Prime Minister.