Opposition parties submit their draft constitutional amendments to House Speaker
Today (Wednesday), Thailand’s opposition parties, led by the Pheu Thai Party, submitted five drafts of proposed constitutional amendments to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai for debate in parliament.
Pheu Thai Party Secretary-General Prasert Chanruangthong told the media that not all five drafts were signed by all the opposition parties, namely Pheu Thai, Move Forward, Pheu Chart, Prachachart Thai and Palang Puangchon Thai.
The first proposes the amendment of Section 256 of the Constitution, to pave the way for the creation of Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), to write a new charter without touching Chapters 1 and 2, about general provisions and the monarchy.
Prasert said that the Move Forward Party did not sign in support of this draft. The party, however, has opted for its own draft, proposing a new charter by the people, which covers all chapters of the current charter.
The second draft seeks to amend Section 272, to strip unelected senators of the authority to vote for the prime minister, leaving the job to elected representatives. Prasert said all the opposition parties approved this draft.
The third draft seeks to amend several sections under chapter 3, regarding the rights and liberties of the people, the rights under the justice system and the rights to protect the Constitution.
The fourth draft is to amend Section 83, to revert to the use of two ballots, one for 400 constituency MPs and the other for 100 party list MPs.
The fifth draft seeks to amend Sections 270, 271, 275 and 279 of the charter, to invalidate the 20-year national strategic plan and to do away with the authority of the military junta.
Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said his party will join the Pheu Thai Party in amending Section 272, to strip senators of their authority to elect the prime minister, noting that the provision is the origin of political distortions in Thailand.
For the other drafts, which his party did not approve, Pita said he hopes the issues can be discussed later.
Meanwhile, the Move Forward party also joined the “Re-solution” group in proposing a draft constitution to be crafted by the people, to be submitted to Mr. Chuan.
The “Re-solution” group consists of the Move Forward Party, the Progressive Group, the Progressive Constitution Group and the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), a Thai human rights NGO.
Yingcheep Atchanont, of iLaw, said that the group has been campaigning for the public to sign up in support of their draft charter, as he cited the necessity to strip senators of their ability to elect the prime minister.
In the meantime, three government parties, namely Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chart Thai Pattana, plan to submit nine draft constitutional amendments to Mr. Chuan late tomorrow (Thursday).
The Democrat Party’s six drafts concern the rights and liberties of the people, the election system under which there are 400 constituency MPs and 100 party list MPs, the revocation of senators’ ability to elect the prime minister, the amendment of Section 256 of the charter and matters regarding decentralization.
Two senators, Seri Suwanpanont and Kittisak Rattanavaraha, warned that senators would, however, resist any attempt to strip them of their authority to elect the prime minister in parliament.
Debate on the constitutional amendments is scheduled for June 23rd, after the debates on the Referendum and Narcotics bills the day before.