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'Outsider PM' clause remains after debate

Jun 18. 2015
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By NITIPOL KIRAVANICH
THE NATION

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CDC wrangles over controversial controversial provisions in draft charter

WARY charter drafters yesterday did not completely shoot down the suggestion of a non-elected “outsider” prime minister from their charter draft. 

The charter drafters discussed the issue as part of their closed-door discussion on some critical points to find common ground before moving ahead with a scrutiny of the draft, article by article, next week.
Under the draft, a non-elected “outsider” prime minister could be brought in to help the country escape political deadlock. Such a person could be selected as prime minister but would need a two-thirds vote from members of the House of Representatives. This section of the draft has attracted strong opposition as many view the proposal as undemocratic.
However, charter drafters did not rule this section out after the heavy discussion yesterday.
Constitution Drafting Committee member Paiboon Nititawan said he did not totally oppose the suggestion of an outsider taking the premiership. However, he wanted certain conditions to maintain his support.
“I do not oppose it if a person obtains more votes than a member of the House of Representatives,” Paiboon said. “However, he or she must be selected by the members to be legitimate. This is because the House members represent the people as a whole.”
Paiboon said the drafters also discussed Articles 181 and 182, which would bestow more power on the prime minister.
Article 181 states that the PM could request a vote of confidence from the House of Representatives. If the votes turned out to be for “no confidence”, the PM could declare a dissolution of Parliament. Meanwhile, Article 182 grants a prime minister authority to propose important bills. If MPs do not submit votes of no confidence within 48 hours, such bills could be considered as gaining the approval of the House.
Political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon voiced opposition to an outsider PM, saying that such a clause would not ensure the legitimacy of the position.
“If the PM is not an MP, there would be no guarantee of his or her legitimacy to assume such an important position,” Sirote said.
“A prime minister who does not come from a direct election would certainly cause problems later for the country, and it would leave the Parliament open to be interfered with by another power outside the Parliament,” the political scientist warned.
Sirote also voiced his concerns over Articles 181 and 182, saying they granted too much power to a PM. 
This is an issue of concern to the CDC at this point because it cannot find common ground on this issue, whether the articles should be removed from the draft or kept for further scrutiny. 
The political scientist concluded that these two issues should be eliminated from the constitutional draft.
CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno said there would be no press releases daily on issues discussed in the meeting. Once the charter drafters had come to conclusions on the proposals by relevant agencies, he himself would explain them to the media.
“I will not explain daily, I will speak once it is time and will explain every topic that people are debating regarding the charter draft,” the CDC chairman said.

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