REFERENDUM

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Referendum failure ‘won’t hurt the economy much’

Published August 16, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/Referendum-failure-wont-hurt-the-economy-much-30292169.html

REFERENDUM

RESPECTED business-sector and academic figures believe a positive vote in this Sunday’s charter referendum would have a limited impact on Thailand’s economy and investor sentiment.

Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman to the Board of Trade of Thailand, said he expected the vote would result in general acceptance that the country could follow the junta’s “road map to democracy” and hold a general election next year.

“Foreign countries are keeping a close eye on Thailand’s referendum,” he said. “If the voting resulted in the draft constitution’s acceptance, it would help guarantee that Thailand could follow our road map and have an election by next year. But if [it is not voted in], the plan to have an election could be delayed, and that could affect foreigners’ confidence.”

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said the referendum’s outcome should not affect economic growth as he believed the government would ensure the election was held next year. He said if the draft constitution were not voted in, the draft could be amended quickly enough so the public and foreigners had confidence that Thailand would have an election as planned.

Charl Kengchon, managing director of Kasikorn Research Centre, said that if the charter were rejected it would affect investor sentiment and the financial market would be interested in how the charter writers handle that.

“We do not think the referendum will shake fund flows because their movement depends on the policy [interest] rates of the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan,” he said.

He said foreign investors were engaged in Thailand for the long term and the scope of an investment was based on the return and the country’s fundamentals, which helped strengthen the competitiveness of their businesses.

Pruksa Real Estate chief executive officer Thongma Vijitpongpun said that if the charter were rejected, it would have a short-term effect for the economy because gross domestic product would still enjoy strong growth as a result of the government’s investment plan.

“It would also not have an impact on demand to buy residential [properties] as homebuyers still benefit from low interest rates,” he said.

But Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, president of the Investment Analysts Association, said the SET Index could dip to 1,400 points next week if the draft were rejected.

He said the Stock Exchange of Thailand was going through a correction stage due to the price of crude oil dropping below US$40 per barrel, and a rejected charter would have an adverse impact on the sentiment of investors.

He said that to restore the confidence of investors, the government would need to reveal quickly the next step on its plan to restore democracy because the charter draft did not indicate what would happen if it were rejected.

However, the SET Index could stay around 1,500 points if the document were approved, and stocks in major sectors such as construction, tourism and banking were expected to achieve high trade volumes because they were related to public spending and private consumption.

Trinity Securities vice president Nuttachart Mekmasin said the referendum was expected to have a psychological impact on local investors but no significant effect on foreign capital movement.

Nuttachart said external factors that should be closely monitored included the Bank of England’s meeting yesterday, which decided on a 375-billion-pound (Bt17.5 trillion) quantitative-easing programme, US non-farm employment, the August 17 Federal Open Market Committee meeting and crude-oil price movements.

Kiatanantha Lounkaew, dean of the faculty of economics at Dhurakij Pundit University, also believes the result of the referendum will not have a significant effect on the economy and that effect would be short-lived.He said this was because the country’s economic momentum was mainly driven by the global economic environment as well as domestic economic factors. Even an overwhelming “yes” or “no” vote would not change that. But what ensued after the referendum may cause a stir in the financial market.

He said that as long as the government reacted appropriately to the outcome of the referendum, the stir would gradually fade away. What the government should do after the vote was tell the county what steps it would take. If the path were clear and reasonable, there would not be a politicaltsunami that would undermine the fragile economy.

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Diplomats told of ‘Thai approach’

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Diplomats-told-of-Thai-approach-30292739.html

REFERENDUM

THE FOREIGN diplomatic corps who yesterday attended a briefing in Bangkok on last Sunday’s referendum expressed hopes for a relaxation of military rule, while Foreign Minister Don Pramuwinai said the military-led government’s “Thai approach” was the most efficient tool to steer the Kingdom forward.

“People in uniform came to rid us of all evils in society,” Don told the foreign diplomats. “This is very unique [specific] to Thailand and cannot be judged by Western standards. We believe we have to address it in our own way.

“If you never believe that, why bother to come [to talk to us]?” Don added. “We speak the facts and want to be rid of wrongdoing.”

The foreign minister did not specify which foreign entities he was referring to, but this week the European Union and the US Secretary of State Department issued statements expressing concern about limitations of freedom of expression and assembly.

The Foreign Ministry yesterday invited 80 representatives from 48 countries to the briefing regarding the referendum and junta’s road map towards elections. Among those invited were 11 ambassadors. A representative from the Swiss Embassy expressed hope that the government would ease restrictions on freedom of assembly and implement other measures or legislation.

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Reiterating the “necessity to keep the peace” as the reason the junta bans political gatherings of more than four people, Don also said some measures could be lifted while the junta was in power.

“If everything is stable then you will see possibilities,” he said. “Unless there are troublemakers … if there are five people trying to make trouble in a peaceful society, would you allow that to happen in your country?”

Once the National Council for Peace and Order steps down from power, Don said, its orders will be automatically lifted.

He emphasised the legitimacy of the recent vote with its 59.4-per-cent turnout and said the general election would be held by the end of next year, while the government would carry out reforms and foster understanding among people.

“We look forward to encouragement from our friends in the international community [who] express goodwill to Thai people and help us move forward,” Don said. Much of the 90-minute session was spent explaining the junta’s previous actions related to politics.

Charter drafters Jade Donavanik and Supachai Yawaprapat were also present to answer questions, which focused on including the public in the process.

Jade told foreign officials that the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) provided for inclusiveness by travelling to communities across the country to solicit the public’s opinions.

He added that the CDC would obtain input in the same manner when writing the organic laws related to the charter, although concrete plans have not yet been spelled out. Drafters also planned to invite politicians informally to share their thoughts on the laws, he said.

“We will see as much participation as we can given the time constraints,” Supachai said.

 

Official results show 61.35% backed charter

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Official-results-show-61-35-backed-charter-30292676.html

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The Election Commission, led by chairman Supachai Somcharoen, announces yesterday the official results of Sunday’s referendum on the charter draft. The results, based on a 59.04-per-cent turnout, showed that 61.35 per cent of voters accepted the draft and

The Election Commission, led by chairman Supachai Somcharoen, announces yesterday the official results of Sunday’s referendum on the charter draft. The results, based on a 59.04-per-cent turnout, showed that 61.35 per cent of voters accepted the draft and

THE Election Commission (EC) yesterday announced the official final results of Sunday’s referendum with the outcome remaining the same as revealed by the initial results.

The EC also said that there were no complaints against the voting. The official result shows the majority voted “Yes” for both questions.

According to the official results, 61.35 per cent of those who voted marked “Yes” for the charter and 38.65 marked “No” while 58.07 per cent approved allowing unelected senators to join members of parliament in selecting the next prime minister, while 41.93 per cent disapproved.

Three southern provinces saw the highest proportion of “Yes” votes with 90.04 per cent in Chumphon, 88.05 per cent in Nakhon Si Thammarat, and 88.03 per cent in Phuket. These three provinces also offered the biggest backing for the additional question.

The 59.40-per-cent turnout at this year’s referendum is higher than the 57 per cent for the 2007 referendum on the charter. Lampoon, which saw the highest turnout in the 2007 referendum, also reported the highest turnout of 76.47 per cent on Sunday.

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EC member Somchi Srisutthi-yakorn said no province reported a turnout below 50 per cent, compared to the 2007 referendum.

Invalid ballots constituted 3.15 per cent of total votes, which was higher than the 1.94 per cent in the 2007 referendum. The three southern border provinces had the highest proportion of invalid ballots -7.43 per cent in Pattani, 7.11 per cent in Narathiwat, and 6.54 per cent in Yala.

 

Why I exercised my right to vote

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Why-I-exercised-my-right-to-vote-30292399.html

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THE rule allowing people aged 18 to vote in the referendum has resulted in a number of young voters becoming eligible for the first time to decide whether they approve or disapprove of the charter draft. But 18-year-olds are not the only new players in this voting game.

For one aged 24, and having had the voting right for seven years, I never once stepped into a polling booth to cast a ballot – not until yesterday. Well, for one thing, I would say there had only been one election since I turned 18 until now.

That vote took place in 2011, following the red-shirt protests and brought Yingluck Shinawatra to power. Yingluck became Thailand’s first female prime minister.

The turn-out then was as high as 75 per cent thanks to the high tension between colour-coded factions competing against one another to bring to power their favoured political party.

But I was not one of them.

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Back then, I was 19 years old, in college and far away from home. No, I did not have to pay some Bt2,000 for an airfare to go and vote at home. The state provided enough convenience such as voting outside the constituency and advance voting, encouraging the eligible to turn out. Still, I did not bother.

I did not feel I was part of the struggle between the two factions. I viewed politics and government as something very distant from me, which would not affect me, never mind who won the election.

As a member of a middle-class family with both parents working for the government, I cared neither about the universal healthcare scheme nor credit cards for farmers. And as a nerd who only paid attention to how to ace an exam, I was not very interested in killing an evil regime and backing a decent person to be a prime minister either.

Most importantly, I had zero faith that my vote would count for anything, that it would matter, that it would actually help shape the country. So, no, thank you. I’d rather let the chance pass.

There was another election in 2014, if it could be counted as one. Most people did not exercise their right because of tension and the possibility of violence breaking out. I am not going to lie. I did not think I would vote regardless of the political situation.

The same reasons as in 2011 still applied; I did not have faith that my ballot would mean anything. But things are different this year. I was determined to go the extra mile to vote because I am unhappy with the current regime that has been in power since the coup.

I may have little faith in politics but it does not take much faith anyway to believe that Thailand can definitely do better than what we have now.

So, yesterday I set my alarm clock for 6.30am and paid Bt20 for a motorcycle-taxi ride to a polling station for the first time since I turned 18, seven years ago, to vote.

By getting fingerprinted before voting, I am not sure whether the force of my impression would be enough to steer the country out of this mess. What I know is that by impressing the fingerprint I have relieved my bitter frustrations with the regime. I just hope they will not be around for too long.

 

Yes to Charter

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Yes-to-Charter-30292413.html

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An official displays a ballot paper during vote counting at a polling station in Nonthaburi yesterday.

An official displays a ballot paper during vote counting at a polling station in Nonthaburi yesterday.

Northeast only region to vote ‘No’

MOST VOTERS approve of the draft constitution and of allowing senators to join MPs in selecting a prime minister, according to unofficial vote results from yesterday referendum.

With more than 80 per cent of ballots counted yesterday, 61.8 per cent of voters supported the draft and 38.2 per cent did not.

On whether senators should be allow to select a prime minister, 58.5 per cent said yes and 41.5 per cent said no.

It was the country’s first national vote since the coup of 2014 and the general election of 2011.

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Voters were asked whether the draft constitution should be approved and whether to allow selected senators to vote with elected MPs to choose a prime minister for the five-year transitional period after the new Parliament convenes its first meeting.

All regions of the country except the Northeast supported both questions, according to results provided by the Election Commission.

The widest margin was in the South, where “Yes” votes outnumbered “No” votes by 77 per cent to 23 per cent to approve the draft constitution. In the Northeast, 52 per cent of voters disapproved of the draft compared to 48 per cent who approved of it, while 55.5 per cent voted “No” for senators selecting a PM and 44.5 per cent voted “Yes”.

Unlike in previous votes, the number of people who tore their ballot papers was high yesterday. There were as many as 35 cases of voters tearing their ballots across the country, including 10 cases in Bangkok, according to police. Most of the alleged offenders said they thought they had to divide the ballot before voting on the two referendum questions.

EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said no legal action would be taken against those who damaged a ballot out of a misunderstanding. However, he added, activists who did so intentionally would be charged with destroying a ballot and instigating unrest.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha urged people to accept the results of yesterday’s vote.

General Prayut also thanked Thais for coming out in great numbers to vote, according to government spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

“The prime minister is ready to accept the vote result and he asks all the parties involved to accept the decision by the people,” the spokesman said.Prayut also reiterated that the political roadmap set by the government would be followed.

The spokesman described the referendum as “transparent and fair”, adding that “everyone wants the country to move forward”.

The prime minister will hold an informal meeting of the Cabinet today to discuss the referendum result, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said. The meeting will gather opinions before discussing them in a joint meeting between the Cabinet and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) tomorrow.

“The joint meeting will have a clear direction of the next step, whether the charter draft passes or fails to pass the referendum,” Wissanu said.

Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchuphan called on people to accept vote resuls even if the winning margin was slight.

The EC’s Somchai said he believed the voter turnout rate was higher than in the 2007 referendum, which saw a 57 per cent turnout. He said yesterday’s turnout could be as high as 70 per cent.

The EC hopes the people will accept the result, no matter what it is, he said.

Asked how the EC would respond to international criticism about the referendum, Somchai said he did not believe international news agencies were of high quality. He said they did not have a correct understanding about the current situations in Thailand and had incorrect judgements towards the country.

Leaders of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) blamed the Election Commission and the NCPO for a low voter turnout. They said the authorities created an “atmosphere of fear” for people who disagreed with the draft charter.

The anti-coup student group New Democracy Movement (NDM) yesterday started its campaign to scrutinise the vote and vote count to make sure there was no foul play.

Meanwhile, most respondents in a survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University were not optimistic about Thai politics after the referendum.

More than 55 per cent of the 1,279 respondents said they thought there would be no improvement in Thai politics, with conflicts still remaining. That was compared to 31.7 per cent who said they thought the situation would be better after yesterday’s referendum, which they viewed as a preparation for voting in the general election expected next year.

Some 12.8 per cent of those surveyed saw a grim outlook, saying that division and conflict would worsen.

 

A political activist detained after tearing ballot

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/A-political-activist-detained-after-tearing-ballot-30292354.html

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Photo: Songtham Kaewpanpruk's Facebook

Photo: Songtham Kaewpanpruk’s Facebook

A man was arrested on Sunday after tearing a referendum ballot inside a polling booth in Bang Na district.

He said he was not insane and ready to take responsibility for what he did.

The man was identified as Piyarat Jongthep, a political activist. He wore a t-shirt which said “No Coup” to the booth and shouted, “Dictators ruined and long live democracy,” before tearing the ballot.

“I’m in full consciousness and have not had mental illness and been under any influence. I will not escape as I take responsibility for my action,” he said.

Before coming to vote, Piyarat wrote on his Facebook page, condemning the dictatorship and hoping people would have new lives after the dictators disappeared.

Foreign observers monitor preparations

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Foreign-observers-monitor-preparations-30292311.html

REFERENDUM

Election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn shows a list of eligible voters to referendum observers from Bhutan and East Timor at a coordination centre in Ayutthaya yesterday, where polling booth staff made final checks to voting equipment ahead of toda
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FOREIGN observers expressed satisfaction yesterday over final preparations for today’s referendum, saying the process had so far been “open and transparent”.

Six representatives from the election commissions of Bhutan and East Timor (three from each country) visited a coordination centre in Ayutthaya province’s Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district to see how voting equipment such as ballots and boxes were distributed to polling booth staff.

Ayutthaya Governor Prayoon Rattanasenee explained to the observers how the province had prepared for the referendum on the charter draft.

He said the province’s 16 districts had 1,036 polling stations and they were ready for the referendum vote.

After a visit to the district centre, a representative from Bhutan’s election commission, who asked not to be named, said the process had so far been “open and transparent”.

He said Thailand’s voting preparation process was similar to Bhutan’s.

However, he added, his country used voting machines instead of ballots like Thailand did.

The Bhutanese officials are studying the referendum voting process here before their country holds its general election in 2018.

Compared to the over one million officials organising the referendum, including polling booth staff at over 90,000 booths, Bhutan will deploy about 8,000 election administrators in 2018.

“We have around 400,000 |eligible voters [while Thailand |has over 50 million]. So our elec-tion is on a smaller scale,” the |Bhutan representative said.

A representative of the East Timor election agency said his delegation was using the event to also help prepare for a possible referendum in his country.

“East Timor has independence, but it has never held a referendum,” he said.

The representative, who asked not to be named, said as his country only got independence in 2002, and it was unclear whether its charter would be amended.

East Timor’s head election commissioner, Jose Agostinho da Costa Belo, said Thailand had effectively spent its referendum budget and his delegation had studied that.

A source close to Thailand’s Election Commission said the Thai EC and its Bhutan and East Timor counterparts often observe one another’s work.

EC member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said three other international watchdogs had been scheduled to observe preparations yesterday – the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel), the Asia Foundation and Nepal’s election agency.

Pongsak Chan-on, Thailand programme coordinator for Anfrel, said the organisation had applied for a referendum observation permit but the EC took too long to respond, as it did not have enough time to fully prepare.

Nepal’s election agency, according to the EC source, could not make it due to its tight schedule.

It is understood the Asia Foundation also did not join the Ayutthaya trip due to its schedule but will monitor events via today’s observation programme, visiting polling booths in Bang Khae in Bangkok, as well as Nonthaburi and Prachin Buri.

More uncertainty lies ahead

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/More-uncertainty-lies-ahead-30292312.html

REFERENDUM

Polling booth officials check voting equipment and ballots to be used in today’s referendum, at Bangkok’s Don Muang district office yesterday. Similar preparations were also made in other provinces throughout the country on the eve of the national vote.
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THE OUTLOOK is not bright for Thailand after today’s referendum, with political conflict and social division still lingering, analysts say.

Commentators said international pressure would largely depend on the government’s steps ahead to the next general election, while the economic outlook would hinge on whether there is peace or conflict.

The big day has arrived and some 50 million eligible voters are set to vote in the referendum. Voters will be asked whether they approve of the constitution draft and whether they want selected senators to join elected MPs in choosing the next prime minister.

This is likely to be a judgement day in more ways than one. Not only will the fate of the new charter be determined, but the outcome could also be significant for political players such as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and politicians from different parties.

What does the future hold for them and ultimately for the people? Experts see some stability but also conflict.

“After the vote, we could see better stability. However, at the end of the day everything will depend largely on how the NCPO acts,” Thammasat University political scientist Virot Ali said.

“The condition is that if the charter draft is approved, then the NCPO sure could gain some legitimacy. But to make it even better, it must open some space for the political sector to move and prepare for the next election,” the analyst said.

However, he explained, if voters reject the constitution, the regime would still have to carry on and ensure stability. He said the next charter would not have to pass a national referendum, which meant the process would be less inclusive. So, it was important to see how the NCPO goes about this process.

If the charter fails the vote, conditions could favour the junta’s enemies to mobilise against the regime, he said. So, unless the government is clear about the steps it takes ahead of the planned election and eases restrictions on freedom of expression, it will face painful questions and strong pressure, he forecast.

As an international affairs expert, Virot noted that the international community expected more clarity after the referendum.

“The NCPO should reveal when exactly in 2017 the election will take place and make sure all of the process is transparent and inclusive. Otherwise, pressure from outside will not go away,” he said.

The key figures behind the 2006 coup were not met with the intense pressure from the international community that the NCPO experienced because they made it clear what they were doing and when power would be returned to the people, he said.

Chalidaporn Songsamphan, another political scientist at Thammasat, said the NCPO’s legitimacy should be boosted if the draft is voted in. But she warned that the vote could be very confusing and each ballot could contain different meanings.

“So, no matter what the referendum result is, I believe difficulties will follow. There are a few different ways of how we can interpret the vote. While the regime will want to take credit when the draft passes the plebiscite, many voters could vote to support the draft simply because they want an election,” the lecturer said.

She said that if the referendum were a popularity test on the junta and had very little to do with the draft constitution, votes of approval could falsely inflate the regime’s confidence and it could become even less inclusive and more repressive.

“But people could vote ‘yes’ because they want this [military government] to end quickly and open the way for a general election. So, what the NCPO should really do is be open and listen to the voices that they may not want to listen to,” Chalidaporn said.

The political scientist said a majority “No” vote would hopefully be a wake-up call to the NCPO, telling it to review itself and improve. “[But] I’m not very sure the NCPO would do that,” she added.

“So, conflicts are very likely to persist. That’s one thing I see for sure,” Chalidaporn said.

Thailand had yet to step out of the cycle of conflict, she said, and regardless of the referendum result, the NCPO’s primary task was meant to be making sure that reconciliation is achieved.

“Bread and butter” administrative issues are also matters of concern. Hit by the global slowdown, the two years under the NCPO have been a minor nightmare for many consumers and businesspeople. And some fear the referendum could hurt the economy even more badly.

Rangsit University economist Anusorn Tamajai said if both referendum questions win a majority “Yes” vote, conflicts could be anticipated, mainly due to a constitutional clause that allows a non-MP to become prime minister. That would affect the country’s economy and investment next year, he predicted.

If a new charter and a national strategy have to be written, the economist suggested that the government allow more inclusive participation in order to bring about a better constitution. This way, it would have a positive impact on the economy and investment, he said.

Anusorn also believed the margin of the referendum result is significant. “The wider gap [between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ vote] the better. It reflects that society is in harmony while a close margin indicates considerable dispute and a lack of consensus to clearly direct the country,” he said.

The economist explained that if the vote result, under a transparent process, showed unanimity and people accepted it, the country would likely move forward without losing any economic and investment opportunities.

If the majority unanimously votes to adopt the draft, Anusorn said the road map to democracy proposed by the junta should be carried out. If not, the charter should be dropped and the country should use the 1997 or 2007 constitutions as guidelines for a more democratic process and constitution. But if the charter is rejected by a narrow margin, he recommended that the authorities find out what the problematic issues are and fix them before writing a new draft.

But in the short term he predicted the result would have neither a negative or a positive impact on the economy, saying it should still expand by 3.2 to 3.5 per cent this year with increased investment from both government and private sectors.

Some people still don’t know what the referendum is all about

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Some-people-still-dont-know-what-the-referendum-is-30292269.html

REFERENDUM

Members of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) and its head Meechai Ruchupan show letters with suggestions on the draft from the people’s sector and various organisations. The CDC yesterday answered questions about the content of the draft and the

Members of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) and its head Meechai Ruchupan show letters with suggestions on the draft from the people’s sector and various organisations. The CDC yesterday answered questions about the content of the draft and the

SOME members of the public are still mystified about the contents and implications of the draft charter, according to responses from a TV show audience.

In the final hours before the public casts ballots to decide the charter’s fate, people called “The Essence of the Constitution Draft” show on Thai PBS on Thursday to ask: “What is the referendum?”

The 21 Constitution Drafting Commission members appeared on the late-night show to explain the draft for a final time before tomorrow’s referendum. The fact that some people are still uncertain after all this time is worrying and comes amid calls for an open debate to make it better understood.

But for “The Essence of the Constitution Draft”, the drafters opted for a question and answer session with the TV hosts and the audience instead of a debate. The 10-episode show finished last night, having been aired in response to criticism that the state has not provided sufficient information on the charter.

Throughout the two-hour live show, 16 drafters responded to questions from more than 100 phone callers on 25 hotlines, while the five other drafters, including chief drafter Meechai Ruchupan, were being grilled by the hosts on stage.

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Meechai reasoned that holding debates on the charter would only add fuel to the fire. “The opposition [to the charter] all have their stances. And they just would not listen anyway,” he said.

The veteran legislator said that talking to opponents of the charter was not helpful in providing information. “They have their beliefs and it is just the two sides thinking differently. So, talk in that format is just of no use.”

The hosts acted as substitutes for the opposing side and vigorously posed questions on hot-button subjects, including state welfare, the political structure and the National Reform Assembly’s additional referendum question. Voters will be asked to decide on whether the 250 senators appointed under the charter draft should be allowed to join the House of Representatives in the voting process to select a prime minister for the five-year transitional period following the next election.

The six drafters on the stage remained enthusiastic for the entire show and provided answers without a hitch, despite questions like “What is the referendum?”

“The bread and butter stuff is the No 1 concern that the general public has about the charter,” charter spokesman Amorn Wanichwiwatana said. “They asked a lot about whether or not they would still be provided with universal health care services and free education [under the charter].”

Amorn said that he was not sure whether the callers had been satisfied with all the answers because time was limited for each call. However, he hoped the information provided was enough for them to make a decision on how to vote.

Drafter Supachai Yawabhrapas said that it was very valuable for the drafters and the public to talk directly to one another. He said that a lot of callers were worried about health care and education under the charter.

One caller who spoke to Amorn for more than 40 minutes expressed disappointment.

“This is one of the very last chances that they had to talk directly to the public. Yet, they were not saying something I hadn’t heard,” she said. “They could have done better. They, for instance, provided some answers about the Senate being possibly selected by the junta, saying that these people [Senators] would have credentials. But I just don’t have the same faith [the drafters] do.”

 

Rival camps in last-ditch efforts to influence voters

Published August 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Rival-camps-in-last-ditch-efforts-to-influence-vot-30292188.html

REFERENDUM

What is purportedly the world’s largest ballot box is the main attraction at yesterday’s campaign in Buri Ram province for a high voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum. Some 1,000 people took part in the event.

What is purportedly the world’s largest ballot box is the main attraction at yesterday’s campaign in Buri Ram province for a high voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum. Some 1,000 people took part in the event.

Suthep says critics seek to topple NCPO; Pheu Thai reiterates charter violates basic human rights

WITH ONLY two days left before Sunday’s referendum, both supporters and opponents of the draft constitution yesterday were making their final attempts to sway voters.

Suthep Thaugsuban, a politician-turned-political activist, warned that supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra were campaigning against the draft in order to use the results as a justification for a rally aimed at ousting the post-coup government.

“They are so arrogant. They announced that if the draft constitution fails to pass the referendum on August 7, they would come out to oust Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] on grounds of a lack of legitimacy,” Suthep said.

“Those people have a plot to keep causing confusion in the country. It’s because they want to return to power.”

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Also yesterday, the pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party issued another statement reiterating that the party was against both the draft constitution and the additional question proposed by the National Legislative Assembly.

The party warned that the draft charter could lead to a new political crisis because its clauses made it “very difficult or almost impossible” to amend the new constitution.

The additional question asks voters if selected senators should be allowed to join elected MPs in the selection the new prime minister in the five years after the new constitution takes effect.

There has also been a campaign urging a low voter turnout with the goal of undermining the government’s legitimacy.

Prayut, who also heads the NCPO, said yesterday that a serious incident was unlikely to happen in the few days remaining before the vote or on polling day. He was responding to warnings by foreign embassies in Thailand for their nationals to take extra precautions over the next few days.

“Don’t worry. The military will take care of this,” he said.

Suthep, in his daily Facebook Live broadcast, said yesterday that although Thaksin cannot vote this Sunday because he is living in exile overseas, the former prime minister had announced his rejection of the draft charter.

“That was intended as a signal for his followers to use every means to overthrow the draft. People in the Thaksin regime are doing everything to have the draft constitution rejected,” he said.

Suthep is the former secretary-general of the Democrat Party and now chairman of the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation.

The political veteran announced yesterday that he would vote “yes” for the charter and the referendum question “to make sure that unqualified people will be unable to become prime minister in the reform era of the country”.

According to Suthep, the draft charter contains provisions that will enforce lifelong political bans for

people convicted of corruption, preventing them from contesting elections and becoming prime minister.

“Those people will stand to lose because of those provisions in the draft constitution,” he said.

In a seven-point statement, Pheu Thai said the draft charter was written after a military coup and without public participation, which meant it lacks legitimacy. Also, many of its provisions fail to respect people’s basic rights, the party said.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) yesterday held a nationwide “Big Day” campaign at the Royal Plaza to encourage voters to cast their ballots in the referendum. The “home stretch” campaign was launched in a last-ditch effort to encourage a large turnout.

EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said that the EC offices in Bangkok and the provinces are united in the campaign to raise voters’ awareness of their rights.

The EC oversees 94,000 polling stations nationwide with almost 1 million election officials.

Supachai said vote results would be known by 8pm on Sunday.

In Bangkok, caravans and processions paraded through the streets of 50 districts in the capital. Several brightly decorated tuk-tuks took part in the parade while singers and actors performed, joined by 2,000 reserve officer training corps students.

Television stations broadcast about the various activities in Bangkok and in major cities such as Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Songkhla, Pattani and Chon Buri.

In a related development, a group called “Citizens Who Reject the Referendum That Is Not Free and Fair” yesterday submitted a petition to the National Human Rights Commission asserting their right to reject the outcome of the referendum.

 

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