Opposition dealt a blow as Thai parliament’s legal advisory committee rejects key draft charter amendment

Government

The attempt by Thailand’s opposition parties to craft a new Constitution, through the establishment of a Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), has been dealt a setback, after parliament’s legal advisory committee president rejected one of their key draft amendments.

The draft in question, initiated by the Pheu Thai Party, seeks to amend Section 256 of the current Constitution, to pave the way for the setting up of a CDA to write a new charter, but leaving Chapters 1 and 2 of the current Constitution, about the monarchy and general provisions about the state of Thailand,intact, plus the addition of Chapter 15/1 about the writing of a new charter.

Dr. Sukit Atthopakorn, advisor to House Speaker and parliament president Chuan Leekpai, said that the draft in question could not be accepted for deliberation because the draft contravenes a recent ruling of the Constitutional Court.

In March, government MPs and senators voted down the Opposition’s amendment of Section 256 in its third reading. Then, Palang Pracharat MPs filed a petition with the Constitutional Court to rule on the legitimacy of the amendment.

The nine judges ruled that constituent power belongs to the people, so national referenda must be held before and after the parliament passes a motion to write a new charter, the first to establish that the amendment is wanted by the people and the second to approve that particular amendment.

Dr. Sukit said the Constitutional Court’s ruling means that the parliament president cannot include the draft in question in the agenda for deliberations in the joint session of the parliament,scheduled for June 23rd and 24th.

However, he maintained that this does not mean that the amendment draft is dropped.

The Opposition parties have collectively and separately submitted several draft charter amendments to parliament for deliberation, in what was described as a dual approach strategy,to ensure that at least some sections of the charter are amended.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)