11 July 2024

The Thai parliament will press ahead with deliberation ofcharter amendment bills for their second reading, scheduled for February 24th and 25th, without waiting for a ruling from the Constitutional Court, government chief whip Wirat Rattanaseth said on Friday.

On Tuesday, the joint session of parliament voted 366:316 to seek a ruling from the court on whether rewriting the entire charter is, itself, constitutional. They contend that the writing of a new charter requires the prior consent of the people, because they endorsed the current charter in a referendum.

A parliamentary panel has completed its review of two draft charter amendments, which passed their first readings in last November. The panel agreed to set up a Constitution Drafting Council of 200 members, to be elected by voters, to write a new charter without touching Chapter 1, about general provisions orChapter 2 about the monarchy.

Wirat said that, even if the Charter Court agrees to accept the motion seeking its ruling regarding the constitutionality of charter amendments, parliament will proceed with deliberating the amendments for their second and third readings.

He added that, if the Charter Court rules that writing a new charter is unconstitutional, the government would still press ahead with amending the charter section by section, because this approach will save taxpayers the three billion baht cost of a referendum.