by Surasak Tumcharoe
BANGKOK, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- A number of senators, including those with close ties to the Puea Thai-led government, are vying for the post of Senate Speaker.
The top post of the Upper House, whose selection is scheduled on Aug. 14, is being contested by several elected senators and only one appointed senator.
The government under premiership of Yingluck Shinawatra would undoubtedly prefer a Senate Speaker supportive of her government's legislative agenda that includes an amendment to the Thai Constitution, proposals for "national reconciliation" and the 2013 national budget.
One political observer here said that two former Senate speakers, namely Prasopsook Boondet and Gen Thiradet Meepian, are viewed as not very supportive of the current government.
The observer said that the ruling party is not anticipating much from either one of them, given the fact that they were appointed politicians as opposed to elected ones.
The government had not only encountered strong opposition in the House of Representatives but also in the Senate, mostly from the so-called Group of 40 Senators, who were all appointed to the Upper House.
Gen Thiradet, who had more or less maintained his neutral stance during his one-year tenure as Senate Speaker until last month, lost his post after the Criminal Court found him guilty of illegally raising his own salary while serving the post of Head Ombudsman a few years ago.
Some observers said that Senator Chuchai Ponglert-adisorn of Chiang Mai province has an edge over the other contenders, being personally associated with Yaowapa Wongsawat, sister of Yingluck and deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra and wife of former premier Somchai Wongsawat.
Yaowapa was born and raised in Chiang Mai, so was Chuchai, whom the leadership of the ruling party would almost certainly prefer to win next week's votes for the top bench of the Upper House.
Undoubtedly, Chuchai has already been seen as a staunch supporter of legislations proposed by the Yingluck government.
However, Senator Direk Thuengfang, himself put up to contest the post as well, said on Tuesday the event in which too many elected senators are vying for will only see their chances of victory dwindling whereas the probability of an appointed lawmaker winning in Aug. 14's votes will remarkably increase.
"The appointed senators were known to have more solidarity than the elected senators, who were so much divided on varied issues. There should have been less competition among the elected senators, if this side of the Senate wished to win," said Direk, the senator of Nonthaburi province.
Among the elected senators vying for the Senate Speaker are Deputy Senate Speaker Nikhom Wairatchaphanit, Kecha Saksomboon, Prasert Prakunsuksaphan, Chuchai and Direk.
Only one appointed senator, Pichet Sunthornphiphit, a former Ombudsman, has been reported to aspire for the post of Senate Speaker.
Pichet is tipped not only to secure votes from among fellow appointed senators but also from elected ones who represented southern provinces, which are concurrently represented in the Lower House by the opposition Democrat Party, according to a senator, who only spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The appointed senators apparently believed that they could keep the executive branch in check more effectively than the elected senators, who were obviously more divided and inclined towards partisanship," he said.