New senate sworn in: Election results ‘seal’ the deal on fresh faces

Photo courtesy of The Nation

The new Senate was inaugurated yesterday, July 10, following the Election Commission’s certification of the 2024 Senate election results.

The ceremony saw 200 elected senators and a reserve list of 100 approved, though controversy struck early when Senator-elect Kordiyah Song-ngam was temporarily suspended due to her advisory role to the president of the Ang Thong Provincial Administration Organisation.

The newly minted senators are set to present themselves to the Secretary-General of the Senate today, July 11, tomorrow, July 12, and next Monday, July 15. Once this formal introduction is complete, the Secretary-General will schedule the inaugural Senate meeting, where the 200 senators will take their oaths of office. The highlight of this meeting will be the election of the Senate president and vice president.

All eyes are on the race for Senate president, a position that doubles as vice president of the National Assembly. The competition has boiled down to two key figures: General Kriangkrai Srirak, a high-ranking senator from the Public Administration and Security Group, and Mongkol Surasajja, the former Director-General of the Department of Provincial Administration.

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General Kriangkrai’s bid is bolstered by his close ties to Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a connection forged during their time as classmates at the National Defence College of Thailand. His influence among both seasoned and new political players, coupled with endorsements from key figures, makes him a formidable contender.

On the other hand, Mongkol Surasajja wields significant influence due to his connections with the powerful Buriram political family and his extensive experience in provincial administration. Despite criticism regarding his affiliations, his governance expertise and previous roles, including his tenure under Deputy Minister Songsak Thongsri of the Bhumjaithai Party, position him as a strong candidate.

Regardless of who emerges victorious, both Kriangkrai and Mongkol are expected to play pivotal roles in the Senate. The new Senate faces several urgent tasks, including the appointment of a new member to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) following General Boonyawat Kruahong’s retirement.

Furthermore, the Senate must select a new Ombudsman to replace Somsak Suwansujarit, with applications open until July 16. Additionally, the Senate will scrutinise the 2025 fiscal budget and the mid-year budget for 2024, which includes funding for the Cabinet-approved digital wallet scheme. The budget is anticipated to be passed in August before being presented to the Senate for final approval, reported The Nation.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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