All posts tagged NEW CONSTITUTION

Poll shows majority don’t know enough about charter draft

Published February 22, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Most people surveyed by a Suan Dusit poll say they do not yet have enough knowledge about the charter draft to make a decision in a public referendum, according to results released yesterday.

The survey entitled “People and the Public Referendum” was conducted from February 7-13 with 1,522 respondents across the country.

Of the total, 69 per cent said they did not know enough about the draft while 30 per cent said they did.

Asked what they would like to know about the charter draft, 81 per cent said they wanted to know the differences between the old and the new charters; 76 per cent said they wanted to know about people’s rights and freedom; 68 per cent said they wanted to know about MPs, senators and PM selection methods; 59 per cent were keen to know about anti-corruption measures; while about 55 per cent said they wanted to know about the charter drafting process.

Asked what should be done to ensure the success of the referendum, about 80 per cent asked for public relations campaigns; 74 per cent said the pros and cons of the referendum should be pointed out; 72 per cent said a sense of belonging must be created among Thais about the charter; 66 per cent called for a halt to misleading and distorted information; while 54 per cent believed a transparent and strong team was the key to success.

Asked about their general opinion about the charter draft, 73 per cent responded there were both pro and anti charter groups; 71 per cent suggested that surveys be conducted to seek public advice and implement recommendations from the public; 69 per cent wanted the charter to be clear and suitable for the country; 65 per cent questioned whether the charter could defuse conflicts and would be accepted or rejected by the public; and 64.91 per cent wanted people to exercise their rights in accordance with the democratic system.

Asked to detail how much they knew about the charter draft, 45 per cent said they knew about it to “some extent”. About 32 per cent said they “did not really know”, 16 per cent said they “did not know at all” while 7.22 per cent said they fully understood the charter draft.

No substitute charter: Meechai

Published February 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


CDC chief says all he meant was a new group could come up with tougher provisions.

THE CHIEF constitution drafter maintained yesterday that there was no “substitute constitution” as has been speculated.

Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), said the speculation might have stemmed from his earlier warning that if his panel’s draft failed to pass the referendum, people might be “frightened by a new one”.

He explained yesterday that he simply meant it was likely a new group of drafters would make a new draft with tougher provisions than his. “I did not mean that a substitute constitution has been prepared,” he said.

Meechai declined to comment on a remark by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam that if the draft written by Meechai and his team failed to pass the referendum, it would be revised before being promulgated without another referendum being held.

“The government and the NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order] will consider that. It’s not the duty of the CDC,” he said.

The chief drafter yesterday also defended certain controversial provisions in the draft constitution. He also responded to concerns expressed by different groups of people, particularly the fact that the rights of communities, consumers and the disabled were not clearly mentioned in the draft charter.

He said revisions would also be made to some conflicting clauses in the first draft completed by his team late last month.

Meechai said he was convinced that if voters got accurate information about the details of the CDC’s constitutional draft, they would vote for it in the referendum.

He maintained that the drafters had good intentions towards the country and that they would revise their draft in a way that would benefit the country rather than just pleasing politicians.

“We will see what is best for the country and we will head that way. The constitution is to be applied to people of the whole country, and not just people in politics or some groups of people,” Meechai said.

“If you focus too much in one particular direction, the country will end up having no peace. And you can’t please anyone in particular on some issues, such as suppressing corruption,” he added.

Meechai insisted that the CDC would remain firm with the provisions on using a single ballot for both constituency and party-list elections, and on disclosure of prime ministerial candidates before the election. He explained that in their public opinion survey, the drafters found that people supported those provisions.

He said that he believed ballot paper would help ease the problem of vote buying, adding that it would make vote buying more difficult for dishonest candidates.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday said he believed the draft constitution would get support from the majority of voters in the referendum.

“I don’t see anything damaging in the draft. It is difficult to find a constitution that prevents corruption,” he said.

Older charter may be used if current draft rejected: CDC

Published February 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE CONSTITUTION Drafting Commission (CDC) has told foreign diplomats that the 1997 or 2007 charter may be brushed up and put to use if the draft constitution it has prepared is rejected in a referendum.

CDC spokesman Norachit Singhaseni said yesterday that the commission had explained to diplomats from 63 countries and 10 international organisations that a general election would be held within the time frame set earlier, which is next year.

Norachit said the military’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order and the government might resort to the 1997 or the 2007 charter if the charter draft is rejected.

“One of the charters could be brushed up to suit the current situation and promulgated,” he said.

The CDC invited the foreign diplomats to inform them about the first charter draft that was released to the public on January 29. It took about an hour and a half to explain it and answer queries from the diplomats.

The diplomats asked how confident the CDC was in its charter draft that it could reduce conflicts and political problems faced by the country. They were told that the CDC tried its best to establish mechanisms to prevent problems and conflicts from reappearing, Norachit said.

“In reality, a charter cannot solve all problems. It depends on the people who use it. Political parties and the people must join forces to ensure that the country moves forward and crosses over the conflicts,” he said.

Other points explained to the diplomats were about the use of the single ballot system and indirect election of senators.

Norachit said the CDC told them that it did not want senators to have affiliations to political parties.

The CDC told the diplomats that the charter had five mechanisms that stressed anti-graft, which it believed would help reduce corruption if enforced effectively.

Norachit said some diplomats asked what the solution would be if several political parties nominated the same prime-ministerial candidate. The CDC explained that PM candidates must endorse approval to be nominated by a party to create transparency.

The commission said it would consider revising the draft according to recommendations from all sectors to be forwarded to the CDC by next Monday.

Charter could ruin balance of power, political scientist says

Published February 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Participants of the public talk

Participants of the public talk

POLITICAL analysts say the charter draft would ruin the “balance of power” if it is adopted, because independent bodies, notably the Constitutional Court, would be given excessive power over other branches of government.

Of all branches of administration, the judiciary seemed to have the most power, Pornson Liengboonlertchai, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s political science faculty, said at a public talk on the new constitution yesterday titled “Utopia is Doomed”.

He said that in the new charter draft, the Constitutional Court would be able to say whether there were circumstances that allowed a government to pass an emergency decree.

However, “such a decision should be made only by the executive branch because it rules the country. They should be able to judge under which situation an emergency decree should be adopted,” Pornson said. If the Constitutional Court had the final say, it would mean it had more power than the executive branch.

Under the draft, the Constitutional Court also had the authority to disqualify the elected administration, he said. And that went against the principles of constitutionality, because, theoretically, people could only be disqualified by those who elect or select them.

He said the Court would also have a problem of justifying its actions because it has no links to the people, despite having so much power. Among the issues was that the Court would be able to rule on matters previously covered by Article 7 – the power to have a final say on matters when no articles in the charter apply to a situation.

Pornson questioned whether judges could adequately give a verdict because the new qualifications for Constitutional Court judges were “rather weak” in his opinion.

Another speaker at the event, Siripan Noksuan Sawasdee, said that the new charter would weaken civil society, as well as the political institution.

With the newly proposed electoral system, Mixed Member Apportionment, no parties would ever gain a majority of seats in the parliament. This would give more bargaining power to medium-sized parties.

She said lists of candidates to be prime minister could be used to appoint a leader from parties that gain at least five per cent of the total number of MPs. But statistically, only three parties could gain such a number – Pheu Thai, the Democrats and Bhum Jai Thai.

So, when neither of the big parties gain a majority of MPs and cannot form a government on their own, power would lies in the hands of medium-sized parties, which could choose who they would join to form a government.

Small parties would be left out such machinations, Siripan said. They would find it hard to compete under such a system, which requires a party to field constituency candidates to gain seats, including the party-list ones.

The classification of senators into 29 groups was also problematic, Siripan said. She feared that they might not be inclusive or proportional.

Having 10 senators from each group to make up the 200-member house would not be fair. She questioned if the House should have more senators from the agricultural or labour sectors than civil servant or the military, because in reality the former outnumber the latter.

Yesterday’s session was hosted by Chulalongkorn’s Faculty of Political Science. The speakers were all lecturers there, including Supachai Yawabhrapas and Amorn Wanichwiwatanan, who are also members of the current Constitution Drafting Commission

More than 100 people attended. They occasionally rocked with laughter as the moderator, Pitch Pongsawat, sometimes cut in and eased the atmosphere by cracking a joke.

At the end of the session, the staff also conducted a little experiment by having participants raise a paper reading ‘yes’ or ‘no’, as if voting in a referendum to pass or reject the constitution draft. Most of the papers in the lecture hall said ‘no’.


NRSA outlines objections to the charter draft

Published February 6, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA)’s political reform committee will pose questions to the Constitution Drafting Commission today about the charter draft, NRSA member Withaya Kaewparadai said yesterday.

Withaya said the NRSA’s Political Reform committee chairman Seree Suwanpanont would conduct the questioning.

The questions to be asked were as follows: The charter draft stipulated that the NRSA continues to be in office for one more year after the charter takes effect. What are the agency’s roles during the one-year period? The committee felt the draft was not clear when it stipulated that MPs are banned from deliberating on a budget for any project.

The committee wanted clarification about criticism that rights and liberty of Thais are reduced under the draft and will the agency have the chance to discuss any other issues with the CDC again?

Meanwhile NRSA’s political reform committee spokesman Wanchai Sornsiri said the committee met to discuss the first version of the charter draft and found that the content in general was acceptable but there were some flaws that needed improvement as follows:

The mixed-proportional election system that gives voters only a single paper ballot to cast their vote instead of two paper ballots to differentiate between the constituency and the party list. The committee believed that such a move would not reflect the wishes of the voters, as voters may like the MP candidate but may not like the candidate’s party.

A single-member constituency enables vote buying to be carried out more easily, as they can buy one vote and get both a constituency and a party list. Besides central and local governments can interfere with or influence smaller constituencies. The committee also suggested that a constituency MP election system be adopted.

Wanchai said the committee also disapproved of the indirect election of senators by 20 professional groups citing the move can lead to vote rigging or collusion.

The charter draft failed to provide a mechanism for public participation in checks and balances and in politics.

The draft gave too much power to the Constitutional Court such as to disqualify politicians over unethical practices. “This makes the court the fifth power apart from the government, the court, Parliament and independent agencies,” he said.

The committee also disapproved of the move to have political parties declare PM candidates before an election as it believed this was unnecessary as Parliament can carry out this selection.

The move to make it tough to amend the charter may lead to a political crisis, he said.

He said the committee would ask the NRSA on February 8-9 to make these suggestions report on the draft reviews and to be presented to the CDC.

“If the CDC review the charter draft, there is a chance it would be accepted in the plebiscite, otherwise it would be rejected,” he said.

Charter draft a worry for Democrats, Pheu Thai

Published February 6, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Parties say proposals would weaken the govt that would take office after next election

POLITICIANS from the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties have voiced concern that the new electoral system proposed in the new constitution draft would weaken governments and make them incapable of ruling the country after the next election.

However, Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchupan argued that politicians should offer constructive criticism or suggestions rather than just grumble that they did not like the draft.

Chawalit Wichayasut, acting deputy secretary-general of Pheu Thai Party, said the weakest point in the constitution draft was the rules that would pave the way for coalition governments that would be weak and unstable.

Curbing corruption was surely an important item on the national agenda, he said. However, the issue was being exploited to conceal attempts to entrench the power of the current rulers, the Pheu Thai politician said. He said this attempt was visible in the proposed new electoral system, the provision for a non-MP prime minister, and the fact that members of the National Council for Peace and Order could run in the next election. In addition, the junta would have absolute control during the election and until the next government takes office, Chawalit said. He questioned how the public could be confident about the fairness of the polls. He called for adjustments to the draft charter otherwise the next government would not be able to serve the people properly.

Chaturon Chaisang, a key Pheu Thai member, shared a similar opinion on his Facebook page, saying the constitution would result in a weak government. He alleged that the constitution had been planned to take back power from the people. Besides the constitution, some 10 organic laws would also be written, he wrote. They included the national strategic plan as well as key reform points which ultimately would foster dictatorship and would persist for a very long time as the constitution also made amendments very difficult, Chaturon remarked.

“This constitution draft would kill all hopes of the situation getting better after the election,” the Pheu Thai figure wrote.

Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intrasombat said there were many points in the charter draft that needed to be fixed. Among them were the electoral system, the mandatory prime ministerial list, and the method of selection of senators.

He expressed concern that the single-ballot system would not be beneficial to voters because it would not truly reflect voters’ intentions. He said his party would release an official statement today about its views on the constitution draft.

Meanwhile, Meechai said he was not worried about the views of political parties and politicians who found the constitution unacceptable. He said they had attacked the draft because they did not like it. However, the drafters had to listen to “rational criticism”, he said. Those making such comments should also be specific about what they did not like in the draft and how it should be mended, Meechai added.

“We [drafters] have always listened to political parties. But their suggestions haven’t been very constructive or useful. For example, they would say the charter must be democratic and allow public participation. And we have done that. So, we don’t know what else we have to write,” the CDC chairman remarked. He also refuted the argument that the constitution would pave the way for an outsider prime minister, suggesting that politicians could write an electoral bill directing political parties to take an oath that they would not propose a non-MP to be the prime minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that no constitution in the world could be 100 per cent democratic. So, people should not have such expectations of the current charter draft.

Meechai rejects call for five-year ban on junta

Published January 22, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation




Charter drafters resume work in Bangkok after Cha-am retreat.

THE CHIEF constitution drafter maintained yesterday that he saw no need to stipulate in the new charter that coup makers stay clear of politics for five years after stepping down.

Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), dismissed a proposal from panel adviser Jade Donavanik that the new charter prohibit members of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) from politics for five years after the next general election is held.

Ahead of the CDC meeting yesterday, Meechai dismissed Jade’s suggestion, but said the drafters would have to discuss the matter again.

Jade was a member of the previous CDC, which also came up with this idea in a bid to reassure the public that the NCPO would not cling to power once the new charter is adopted.

Yesterday was the second day for the drafters to work at their office in Bangkok after returning from a retreat in Phetchaburi’s Cha-am district last week.

CDC spokesman Chartchai Na Chiangmai, meanwhile, said yesterday that the panel was reviewing the 261 finished articles on a one-by-one basis to ensure everything is correct.

As of yesterday, some 60 articles had been reviewed, though the drafters have not yet started writing the last chapter on Transitory Provisions.

Chartchai said the revision would be completed this week, and since the January 29 deadline is fast approaching, drafters would spend next Monday and Tuesday completing the remaining provisions.

However, the drafters already have a rough idea that the Transitory Provisions chapter will cover three major parts, the spokesman said.

The first part will involve stipulations on how relevant organic laws required under the new charter would be written and how long it should take, he said.

The second part will be about reforms, including education reform and other points proposed by the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) and others.

The last part will involve the transition towards the new charter and will also stipulate how the NCPO should step down from power, Chartchai said, adding that the drafters were still figuring out these issues.

He also pointed out that there were some differences between previous charters and the new one; for instance, the terms of independent agencies are changed.

Apart from that, the CDC has set out its public relations plan to create understanding about the draft charter among the public and relevant bodies.

As soon as the initial draft is released on January 29, CDC members will hold a non-formal meeting with the NRSA and the National Legislative Assembly to explain the draft, the spokesman said.

The drafters are also planning to host a big-scale event, perhaps at Impact Arena Muang Thong Thani, to present the first complete draft. At the event, all 21 drafters will be ready to accept any inquiries from the press and the general public.

Chartchai said the CDC would ask the Interior Ministry to have its officials nationwide watch the event, expected to be broadcast live on state-run television channels.

PM-candidate list optional for parties

Published January 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


THE CONSTITUTION Drafting Committee resolved yesterday that political parties running in national elections could propose three prime-ministerial candidates, known as a “PM list”, CDC spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni said.

This is a revision to the previous proposal that each party must submit a list of five candidates. A non-MP or “outsider” could be prime minister. But the spokesman insisted it was up to the parties to decide whom they would propose, not the drafters.

Parties that opted for proposing the PM list must follow three conditions, he said. First, they must have a permission letter from the candidates. Second, candidates must be constitutionally qualified to take up Cabinet seats. Last, candidates could not be proposed by more than one party or they would be voided.

The development came as drafters were completing clauses under the chapter on Parliament yesterday. They confirmed their previous proposal that the lower house would be made up of 500 members, of whom 350 would be elected from constituencies while the rest would be party-list MPs. They would serve a four-year term.

Additionally, the first parliamentary session could be opened when there were no fewer than 475 members, or 95 per cent of the total number of MPs.

More important, Norachit noted that parties could only have party-list MPs when they fielded constituency ones. The same people could not run for both systems, and party members must have a part in deciding who would be on the parties’ list, he added.

For a constituency candidate to win a poll, he or she must not only gain more votes than other candidates but must also have more votes than “no votes”. Should “no vote” be the most polled in a constituency, a by-election must take place and parties must field different candidates to run, the spokesman explained.

He further said that should a by-election result from electoral fraud, the votes gained in that poll would not be used to calculate the total parliamentary seats of a party. If the by-election was successful and it turned out to decrease the MP seat number, the last person or people on the party-list should be removed from the House to make sure it had no more than 500 MPs.

Also, in the case of fraud during a by-election, the investigation process must be finished within one year of the national election, Norachit said.

Apart from that, the drafters also discussed the qualifications and disqualifications of MPs.

Following the 2014 interim charter’s Article 35 that politicians must be morally upright, the CDC resolved yesterday that candidates’ political rights must not have been revoked, and they should not have been declared bankrupt or jailed in the previous 10 years counting from the application date.

The drafters also included disqualification of district and village headmen with that of MPs.

Norachit explained: “If they did not have the district or village headmen’s qualifications, they should not be MPs or ministers.”

Another qualification of an MP, the spokesman said, was that he or she must not have been fired from governmental organisations for malpractice.

Norachit clarified that former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva would not be disqualified, though.

Abhisit had presented fake documents to apply for a military lecturer’s job and got the rank of sub-lieutenant. The CDC spokesman said presenting fake documents was not a “malpractice”.

In the case of another former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, he also said she would not be disqualified after she had served her five-year electoral-rights ban after being impeached.

Meanwhile, CDC head Meechai Ruchupan stood firm that the panel was not making the Constitutional Court a “super body” through giving it the power to rule over the contentious Article 7.

“On tasking the court with judging the ruling tradition under democratic regime with the constitutional monarchy as stipulated in Article 7, we see that in the past that although it has been written in the Constitutions, they never said which body would do the job.

“Then the 2014 interim charter stipulated that the Constitutional Court should do that, and we agree. So we include in the Constitutional Court chapter that when no articles in the charter could work, it should rule in accordance with the ruling tradition,” Meechai explained.

The CDC was only making it clear, not giving the court more power, he stressed, adding that rather it would have more responsibilities because there are more qualifications of political-office holders.

The Constitutional Court is the most appropriate body to make those decisions, he said.

Because the court has always been dragged into political conflict, the CDC chief said drafters were trying to improve qualifications of judge candidates.

Single-ballot system to stay in new charter

Published January 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


System will save state Bt400 million due to fewer personnel, less ballot printing and reduced void votes, CDC says

THE CONSTITUTION Drafting Commission yesterday resolved to maintain the controversial single-ballot electoral system in the new charter based on strong support from public opinion polls, CDC spokesman Chartchai Na Chiangmai said.

This single-ballot system is also expected to deal with the problem of a large number of void ballots, he said, adding that the Election Commission had complained that there were millions of spoiled ballots under the old system.

More important, the party-list voting system with two ballot papers also left a loophole for political parties to exploit, he said. Betraying the principles of fair election, some parties did not field any constituency candidates and counted only on the party-list ones.

Chartchai said the two types of members of House of Represent-atives served different purposes – the constituency MPs worked closely with the people and the others had to be experts who could help at higher levels.

Apart from that, he said the single-ballot system would save more than Bt400 million as fewer personnel and less ballot printing would be required.

Yesterday was the third day of the CDC’s retreat in Phetchaburi’s Cha-am district where the drafters were deliberating on the “National Assembly” chapter.

Chartchai confirmed that the CDC had stuck to its guns in terms of there being 500 MPs – 350 of whom would be from constituencies and the remainder party-list MPs.

As for senators, the drafters appear to have changed their minds about allowing politicians’ relatives and family members to run for seats in the upper house. The spokesman said they agreed to block parents, spouses and children of political-office holders, including independent agencies’ commissioners, from running for the Senate in a bid to prevent conflict of interest.

The Senate’s make-up will remain unchanged from the drafter’s original plan, with senators being selected within their social groups in three levels, ranging from district to national. The senators will also only serve a five-year term with no extensions.

Meanwhile, should more than half of the senators go missing, a reselection process will have to be done within 60 days.

The drafters also made a decision in relation to the end of senators’ and MP’s terms. Chartchai said the drafters decided that a petition from at least 10 per cent of House members was required to revoke the membership of any MP or senator. Then the case would have to be submitted to the Constitutional Court and, once accepted, the member would have to stop serving and only return if the court found him or her innocent.

If the person in question is found guilty of malpractice, the court will impose a five-year ban on his or her electoral rights, Chartchai said.

The membership of a parliamentarian will also come to an end if he or she is absent for a quarter of the parliamentary session, he added.

Drafters yesterday completed writing at least 75 articles of the new charter, and also resolved to remove unnecessary laws.

Chartchai said that since Thailand adopted its first economic and social-development plan several decades ago, the role of the state had grown extensively, resulting in the creation of many different laws, some of which have become a burden on both the state and the public.

Hence the CDC agreed that some of them had to be removed to downsize the government’s responsibilities as well as boost people’s convenience, he said.

Also, in response to strong criticism, the drafters yesterday agreed to remove a clause on media censorship under emergency decree and martial law. Chartchai said stipulating this in the charter was redundant as the authorities already examine and censor news under emergency decree and martial law.

Previously, the CDC had agreed to stipulate that articles and reports were subject to censorship during irregular situations, instead of during war as stipulated in previous constitutions.

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