11 July 2024

The Constitution should be amended to protect democracy and render it impossible to organise a putsch to overturn the constitution, with the courts held duty-bound to safeguard democratic rule.

These concepts for inclusion in a new charter for Thailand were shared by participants in a seminar held today (Saturday) at the Faculty of Law of Thammasat University, in commemoration of the late law professor, Professor Pairote Jayanam.

Pokin Polakul, chief of nation driving strategy for the Thai Sang Thai party, said that a coup to overthrow a legitimate government and the constitution must be regarded as an act of treason and the coup makers must face imprisonment.

What needs to be found is a way to write a charter to lay the ground rules to prevent a coup in the future, said Pokin, adding that all charters written so far have, however, maintained that power belongs to the people.

He also said that judges must take an oath to protect the constitution.

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that the current Constitution is irrelevant and cannot cope with national problems, as he expressed doubts about the referendum conducted to approve it.

As for any new charter to be written, with the exception of Chapter 1 regarding That statehood, rights and liberties of the people and democratic rule and Chapter 2 regarding the monarchy, Abhisit said it must be compact and contain only the key elements, such as rights to state welfare and the relationship between the people and the state.

Long-term national strategies and national agenda, which are incorporated in the current charter, should be omitted.

Abhisit said he disagrees with getting rid of the Senate and independent organisations adding, however, that rules need to be set to ensure senators and independent organisations perform their duties as part of the check and balance mechanism.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, of the Progressive Movement, said the current charter was crafted by the coup makers to prolong their stay in power, with the help of the Senate, the Constitutional Court and independent organisations.

The electoral system, he said, should not be incorporated into the charter, because it will render amendments almost impossible, and they should be defined by means of organic laws.

He said the  Senate, in his opinion, is unnecessary, while the authority of independent organisations should be clearly defined.