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Pressure mounts for review of NACC bill

Pressure mounts for review of NACC bill

MONDAY, January 15, 2018
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CALLS GREW yesterday for officials to seek a Constitutional Court ruling as to whether the anti-corruption bill is in line with the country’s highest law.
The deputy president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), Surachai Liengboonlertchai, said yesterday that NLA members should petition the court for a verdict on the constitutionality of a new law governing the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). 
He added that he expected such a court ruling to end doubts about the status of the nine current NACC members and avoid criticism that may arise in the future.
Surachai also said any petition to the court should be done before the bill, which was recently passed by the assembly, would be submitted for royal endorsement for promulgation.
“The NLA members who wish to petition the court may do so through the assembly’s president or bring their case to the court directly,” Surachai said yesterday.
According to the law, NLA members have the right to seek Constitutional Court rulings on the constitutionality of bills passed by the lawmakers. The petition would require support from at least 25 NLA members.
Srisuwan Janya, secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution, yesterday asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in writing to seek a Constitutional Court verdict on the bill’s constitutionality.
He said certain clauses in the bill contradict the charter. For example, he said, certain NACC members who lacked qualifications under the Constitution were spared by the bill from losing their jobs. 
He added that NACC president Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit should have lost his job because he had served as a political appointee a few years ago, and therefore failed to meet the qualification that an NACC member must not be a political appointee for at least five years.
Srisuwan warned that if the prime minister fails to seek a court ruling over the matter, he would take legal action against him for dereliction of duty. 
He also said the NLA members who voted in support of the bill had acted to benefit the NACC members, which he viewed as malfeasance. The whistle-blower added that he would also take legal action against those lawmakers.
In addition to Watcharapol, NLA member Vittaya Arkompituk also failed to meet certain qualifications set in the charter, said Srisuwan.
Earlier, Constitution Drafting Commission member Meechai Ruchupan had recommended that the NLA seek the opinion of the Constitutional Court regarding the matter.
Watcharapol, the NACC president, said yesterday that he was pleased to vacate his seat if the Constitutional Court rules that the NACC bill is unconstitutional and he is not qualified to remain as a commission member.
“I want this matter to go to the Constitutional Court so that all the legal questions are answered,” he said, adding that he did not want doubts over his status to undermine NACC resolutions in the future. 
He said he had no concern over the matter, but instead was “rather happy” to hear that some NLA members might seek a Constitutional Court verdict on the matter.
Watcharapol said that among the nine NACC members, only he and Vittaya would be affected if the court were to rule against the bill. 
“The seven other NACC members can still continue with their work. And the vacated seats will be filled, so there’s nothing to worry about,” the NACC chief said.