Thai Lawmakers to Debate Prime Minister’s Swearing-In Controversy

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(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s parliament will debate the incomplete oath of office taken by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and the Cabinet, a controversy critics say undermines the less than two-month-old government.

The debate will be held on Sept. 18, Energy Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong told reporters in Bangkok on Tuesday after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Prayuth and the Cabinet were sworn-in in July after a disputed general election in March. But he and his ministers have been attacked for failing to utter part of the oath of office during the ceremony. Opponents argue the government could be illegitimate as a result.

Thai Lawmakers to Debate Prime Minister’s Swearing-In Controversy

The Office of the Ombudsman last week sent a complaint about the incomplete oath-taking to the Constitutional Court to decide if it’s a breach of the charter. The Ombudsman said the court must decide whether it will accept the case.

“It’s hard for the government to make this go away,” said Prajak Kongkirati, the head of the politics department at Thammasat University in Bangkok. “It’s a serious issue, especially in a country that gives so much respect to traditions and ceremony.”

Prayuth led a military coup in Thailand in 2014 and the current constitution -- the nation’s 20th -- was put together while he was junta leader. The former army chief returned as a civilian leader after this year’s contested election.

Television footage indicates the final sentence of the oath was omitted during the swearing-in ceremony in front of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The full oath is:

“I swear I will be loyal to His Majesty and perform my duties honestly for the benefit of the country and the people. I will also uphold and comply with the constitution of the kingdom in every aspect.”

Prayuth and the Cabinet on Aug. 27 received a letter from Vajiralongkorn containing the monarch’s speech from the July ceremony. That speech includes a wish for the administration to have “the strength to do good.”

Thailand’s pro-military ruling coalition comprises more than a dozen parties but has a razor-thin majority in the lower house, spurring doubts about whether it will last its full four-year term.

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