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Scholars say new charter has four major flaws


A GROUP of noted scholars linked to the “Midnight University” issued a statement yesterday opposing the charter draft and calling on the public to reject it in a public referendum.

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The group strongly disapproved of the draft, and noted four major flaws, after the Constitution Drafting Commission led by Meechai Ruchupan completed its first version of a new charter with 270 Articles.
The group said firstly, the draft deprived people of their rights and liberty – unlike previous charters that had given the people a right to manage natural resources and the environment.
Second, it said the draft reduced the power of the people and their political participation, as well as their power of checks and balances. The proposed election system would weaken political parties and enable extra-constitutional powers to interfere in the political system, it said.
Third, it said the draft provided too much power to the Constitutional Court and independent agencies to check elected governments.
Fourth, it gave immense power to the Senate, which could appoint members to independent agencies. However, the Senate was not accountable or linked to the people because it was not directly elected by them.
“These four flaws reflect the fact that the charter draft seeks to reduce the power of the people and empower the elite or the leading class. This charter belongs only to a small group of people, not people nationwide. If the draft were put to use, it would plunge the country into a violent, deep and complicated division.’’
Former National Reform Council member Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who led the political reform committee of the now-defunct council, said that if the Meechai charter draft was approved, it would be torn up because it was almost impossible to amend it.
Article 23 stipulated that to amend the charter, more than half the total votes of Parliament were needed and one-third of the Senate must support the amendment. And, more than 10 per cent of political parties that have more than 10 MP seats must support the charter amendment.
The charter draft also required a public referendum to be held if the amendment touches on the essence of the charter.
“This type of charter cannot bring about reconciliation and it has too many hidden agendas,’’ he said.

Published : February 02, 2016

By : The Nation