6 June 2024

Pheu Thai Party’s advisor Phumtham Wechayachai has explained the rationale behind the party’s strategy to amend the current Constitution, by proposing amendment of Section 256, to set up a Constitution Drafting Assembly to craft a new charter, and proposing drafts to amend several other sections.

Phumtham’s explanation, offered in his Facebook post today (Thursday) is, apparently, meant to dispel suspicion among members of another opposition party, Move Forward, that the core opposition party is towing the line of the Palang Pracharat, the core government party.

The Pheu Thai Party’s advisor insisted that the party maintains its policy to amend the entire Constitution through the CDA, which will allow public participation in the drafting process.

He warned, however, that, under the current political situation there is no guarantee that the bid to write a new charter, either through the CDA or other means, will be a success or whether there will be a CDA at all.

In order to build a strong democratic system, Phumtham said that democratic principles must be firmly upheld but, more importantly, the management of the principles must be realistic, with respect for divergent political views, in order to seek cooperation from all stakeholders.

Hence, the Pheu Thai Party has realised the need to amend various sections of the Constitution, such as the sections about the rights and liberties of the people, the right to fair treatment under the justice system as well as the right to protect the Constitution, said Mr. Phumtham.

The biggest Opposition party is also seeking an amendment of the Charter to revert to the old election system of two poll ballots, one for the election of 400 constituency MPs and another for the election of 100 party-list MPs, he added.

He insisted that the party’s dual approach will be beneficial to the people and will be more fruitful than the single approach, of proposing the writing of a new charter, “because, if there is a sudden political accident or if there is a snap election, we will have, at least, succeeded in amending some sections, which will bring about some democratic changes.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Chuan Leekpai said today (Thursday) that he will call a meeting today of the government whips, and those of the opposition and the Senate, to discuss preparations for the debate on proposed charter amendments on June 23rd and 24th in a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

He said he expects two days of debate should be enough for the 14 draft amendments, proposed by government and opposition parties, but he needs to discuss the matter with their whips today.

Yesterday, the Opposition submitted five constitutional amendment drafts to the House Speaker, while three government coalition parties – Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chart Thai Pattana – submitted eight  drafts of their own hours later, mirroring the Opposition in focusing on people’s rights and freedoms and seeking to limit the Senate’s power.