By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN
JUNTA-appointed charter drafters and national legislators held a closed-door meeting yesterday, cramming 200 volunteers with messages to be passed on to voters nationwide about the draft constitution and the additional referendum question.
The tutoring session was among the first of their public-relations plans, which are expected to eventually involve thousands of campaign volunteers around the country.
The people who attended were primarily members from the so-called “three rivers of power”.
They were trained first hand by experts from Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), and are expected to help train other volunteers from provincial and district levels.
More training sessions will follow through to the end of June. Then in July – a month before the national referendum takes place – the PR scheme will become more intense with local volunteers visiting voters’ houses to brief them with information about the charter and the extra question.
The additional question in the referendum concerns the empowerment of a junta-selected Senate to jointly choose the next prime minister during the so-called “transition period”.
Many are concerned that such a question would bring down the draft constitution with it, with voters losing trust and seeing it as a means for the National Council for Peace and Order to retain power after the adoption of the constitution – and after the promised general election next year.
The CDC continues to show its discomfort towards the additional question and the plan to jointly work with the NLA on the PR programme.
A CDC source told The Nation yesterday that while it was true that some members of the CDC were giving lectures to the volunteers, they were in fact only briefing them about the charter, and not about the extra question.
“We are separate,” he insisted.
Yesterday’s cramming course started early in the afternoon. According to the official tentative schedule, it was due to go on until 6pm.
The content covered included the summary of the draft constitution, on which CDC chairman Meechai Ruchuphan delivered a lecture; the means and conduct of the referendum, led by the Election Commission; and the approaches for dissemination and PR on the extra question, which was handled by the NLA.
Next week, the CDC will also hold a session for “teacher A” individuals, who will receive training firsthand from the drafters and disseminate the information to the general public.
The provinces have been divided into nine regional groups, with each group responsible for disseminating information in their areas of between seven and 10 provinces.
According to the CDC, at least 300,000 volunteers will be involved in the final stage of the PR programme.
The main challenge, the CDC source said, was to get such a huge number of people to act in chorus, speaking in line with one another.
Otherwise, instead of being the promoters of the draft, they would end up being “the hot water harming it”, he warned.