House Speaker maintains his rejection of Pheu Thai’s draft charter amendments

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai today (Wednesday) reiterated his decision to reject the Pheu Thai Party’s  draft charter amendments, which seek to establish a Constitution Drafting Assembly to craft a new charter under Section 256 and Chapter 15/1 of the current charter, as both Houses of the Parliament convened to debate and vote on 13 charter amendment drafts proposed by various political parties.

Mr, Chuan maintained that he has strictly adhered to the Constitutional Court’s ruling that allows amendments of the current charter, but not a rewrite, after being questioned by Pheu Thai MP Cholnan Srikaew over the decision made before the parliamentary session.

Mr. Cholnan insisted that the party did not seek to write a new charter, noting that both Mr. Chuan and his legal advisory team had interpreted the Constitutional Court ruling in a way that is blocking MPs from performing their duties in parliament.

He said that, if the draft in question is included in the agenda and debated in parliament, by legislators of all camps, the Pheu Thai party is ready to accept the decision of the majority, but not the individual judgement of the House Speaker.

Mr. Chuan, however, defended that, when he made the final decision on the issue, he had exercised great caution, in full awareness that a wrong call on his part would result in damage.

He said that the Pheu Thai Party’s draft, with the inclusion of Chapter 15/1, would result in the revocation of the current Constitution, which would first require the holding of a national referendum, to seek the consent of the people.

“If I had accepted the draft in question, it would amount to me not adhering to the ruling of the Constitutional Court, which is legally binding to all agencies,” said the House Speaker as he insisted that his decision was based on principle.

The three-day joint Parliament session began yesterday (Tuesday), with the Referendum Bill passed in the final reading with an overwhelming majority. Today and Thursday are dedicated to the debate on the 13 drafts, with a vote expected late Thursday.

The ruling Palang Pracharat Party proposed one draft, three of its fellow government coalition parties eight drafts, and Opposition led by Pheu Thai five drafts – with one being rejected before the session.

Mr. Chuan has made clear that there will be no extension of the debate, although the opposition parties wanted an extra day.


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