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Charter drafters must heed the public: ex-NRC members

Sep 21. 2015
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By THE NATION

CALL FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS AND LIVE BROADCASTS OF DRAFTERS' MEETINGS
FORMER members of the now-defunct National Reform Council (NRC) have called for public participation to be allowed in the drafting of the new constitution.
They said yesterday that public hearings should be held to ask people what they wanted to see in the new charter. Meetings of the constitution drafters should be broadcast live, they said.
Former NRC member Chirmsak Pinthong said that as the new constitution draft would have to be approved in a national referendum, members of the public should be allowed to closely follow its drafting through live broadcasts of the charter writers’ meetings.
“The drafting should be done openly and transparently. It would be good to have live broadcasts of the drafters’ meetings so that the public can follow the drafting,” Chirmsak said.
Boonlert Khachayuthadech, another NRC member, noted that during the drafting of the 1997 and 2007 constitutions, public opinion was sounded out through public hearings. 
He said the same method should be used again so that the new charter also incorporated ideas from the public, and not just drafters’ ideas. 
“This time the NRC no longer exists to look at the content of the new constitution,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that former prime minister Anand Panyarachun and former Senate speaker Meechai Ruchuphan were among the candidates to become members of a new Constitution Drafting Committee.
“We will consider all and see who is suitable. We will talk to them,” he said, adding that candidates would be approached when he returns from the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this week.
Chirmsak voiced support for Anand to be appointed head of the CDC. 
“It’s because he has experience writing constitutions and has a good understanding of Thai society,” he said, adding that the new chief drafter should be allowed to select other members of the drafting committee.
Boonlert said that both Anand and Meechai were qualified to head the CDC. He called for the drafting process to be transparent.
Sudarat Keyuraphan, a key figure in the Pheu Thai Party, called on the constitution drafters to listen to the viewpoints of the public.
“This new constitution should be acceptable to the people,” she said, adding that it should help bring about positive change to the country.

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