Published on December 30, 2007
As part of an annual tradition, the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) was dubbed "The green eunuch" by Parliament-beat reporters for its dutiful role in serving and advancing the interest of the military junta through the passing of controversial measures favourable to the military.
Many members of the NLA are from the military and the senior bureaucracy, which is why it is seen as the green Parliament. The Parliament journalists from various newspapers, radio and television channels noted that the NLA had pushed through the internal-security bill without listening to the fierce opposition and criticism from civil society and this could be understood as a last-minute return of favours by assembly members to the Council for National Security (CNS), which appointed them.
The NLA rushed 70 bills through, many controversial, within a short period of three days before the election. Such behaviour was likened by the group to "the domesticated Javanese dove that sings whenever its master snaps his fingers".
Speaker of the NLA Meechai Ruchuphan was named "CEO of the NLA" for his domineering role, which was crucial in passing numerous controversial bills. The reporters noted that many NLA members regarded Meechai with deference owing to his seniority, experience and legal knowledge, as if he were their corporate chieftain.
As for the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), which drafted the 2007 junta-sponsored charter, its members have been dubbed "Nasty disciples of the CNS" or the junta.
A notable, or rather notorious, accomplishment of the CDA was to add a provisional clause, Article 309, granting amnesty to the CNS, which staged the coup on September 19, 2007. The drafting assembly has also been plagued with corruption allegations even after the charter was narrowly approved by a referendum.
Members of the drafting assembly have been accused of making illegal gains out of the publishing of the new charter.
The parliamentary incident of the year was the invasion of Parliament by NGOs led by former senator Jon Ungpakorn. The surprise raid was the first in the history of Thai parliaments, and reporters noted that never before had the seat of legislative power been completely surrounded and blocked by protesters. The group failed to stop the NLA from passing what they criticised as "dangerous bills", including the internal-security bill and the autonomy bill for Chulalongkorn University, which is regarded as a de-facto privatisation. Critics say it will make the elite university even less accessible to poor students.
NLA member Viriya Namsiripongphan was named "Rising star" for his outstanding role in deliberating legislation, his perfect attendance record and his democratic spirit, as reflected in his willingness to listen to criticism. Viriya is a lecturer in law at Thammasat University and blind.
The "Biggest let-down" tag for an NLA member went to Admiral Bannavit Kaengrian, who came full of promises to uncover various corruption cases but ended being accused of being corrupt himself. He also failed to run for election at the last minute after the Defence Ministry delayed acknowledging his letter of resignation.
The odd couple of the year in Parliament went to Meechai and CDA chairman Prasong Soonsiri, who have no love lost for one another.
Prasong lost out to Meechai when the latter was named speaker of the NLA. Prasong took the helm at the CDA, but the two are hardly ever seen together.
Prasong has been noted for his vehement opposition to virtually all bills that Meechai has backed, including the internal-security bill.
They were likened two tigers not to be found in the same cave.