By WASAMON AUDJARINT,
KEY PHEU Thai Party leaders have given the thumbs down to the draft charter, saying it would be the worst and most authoritarian constitution that Thailand has ever had.
The charter drafters naturally disagree with that sentiment, as do lawmakers.
Pheu Thai’s former education minister Chaturon Chaisang posted eight reassons on Facebook yesterday why he opposes the draft.
He said that the draft charter has undermined the essence of an election, and will create a government which is weak, unstable, and risked of being overthrown easily.
He said the new political system would opened the way for an outsider to become prime minister post, while the National Council for Peace and Order and the Army would insert influence over the government and the Parliament via the proposed National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee.
Thida Thavornseth, former chairwoman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, believes every section of the new draft was written synchronously, in a way that would ensure the country’s highest authority would remain in the same hands after an election that “is likely to maintain some certain goals”.
Thida believes Article 280 of the charter regarding a special power of the NSRRC would result in stricter regulations on future Cabinets.
Former veteran Democrat MP Thawil Praison said Article 278 would prolong the power of the NCPO until the new government comes into office, saying it is normal for the constitution to address the role of a caretaker government while waiting for an election.
“It’s normal to have a caretaker [government] while waiting for the new government to come,” Thawil said. “They would go once a new government takes office.”
Thawil said many things implemented during past coups remain in effect today. But the most worrying part of this draft charter was the fact that power would still remain in the hands of technocrats and the general public still had very little access to the political system.
“The overall picture of this new constitution depicts the phenomenon of power centralisation that is still in the hand of technocrats,” Thawil said.
Sunai Phasuk, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, is worried about Article 285, as it would give immunity tonvalidate the NCPO for its past actions. Sunai is also concerned about articles 278 and 280.
He said the essence of the draft is to extend the NCPO’s reign. “Although we will have an elected government, they will operate under a body simulated from the NCPO. Thus the future situation won’t differ much...”
But a Constitution Drafting Committee spokesmen defended the charter draft, particularly the Article 280.
General Lertrat Rattanawanit argued that the provision did not aim to promote the staging a coup but prevethe article was intended to prevent a coup from happening.
“Politicians had staged political fights without regard to the rule of law to the point the governments became dysfunctional and failed to solve political conflicts and violence,’’ he said.
Another CDC spokesman Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said the provision would bestow the NSRRC with special power when the country meets the following criteria: violence and political conflicts; the government and agencies under the constitution fail to solve the problems; and two-thirds of the NSRRC approves invoking the power.