By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN
EX-MEMBERS of Parliament defended themselves yesterday against allegations of unlawfully amending the 2007 constitution, insisting that the proposal they approved matched the eventual change of the charter.
The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) held an extraordinary meeting to hear arguments from the prosecutor – the National Anti-Corruption Commission – and the accused – the 248 ex-MPs – as it deliberated on the impeachment motion against the latter.
NACC member Vichai Vivitsevi read the case’s opening statement in Parliament, saying the 248 ex-MPs had intentionally abused power, in contravention of Article 58 of the 2007 Constitution and the 1999 NACC Act.
It alleged that the 248 former MPs signed their names in 2013 in support of the proposal and passed it in the readings although the passed amendment and the proposed drafts were not one and the same.
Most important, it was stated that the MPs had tried to amend a principle concerning the Senate’s access to power in Article 116. It enabled the senators who had held the position to run for election without a two-year pause. Thus the draft passed in the readings was not the one proposed, making the motion unconstitutional, the opening statement read.
The representatives of the 248 ex-MPs took turns to speak, defending themselves and rejecting the allegation. Among them were Viroj Pao-in, Samart Kaewmeechai, Vichan Meechainan and Surapon Chandang.
They insisted that there was only one draft, which meant the proposed and the passed drafts were the same. In addition, they, as MPs, had reserved the privilege to pass the amendment and hence their action was fully constitutional according to Articles 130 and 291 of the 2007 Constitution, they said.
“According to Article 291, we had reserved rights to amend the charter as long as it did not affect the nation, democracy with constitutional monarchy, and the form of state,” said Samart Kaewmeechai, adding that the MPs followed strictly the order of the Constitution Court that they amend the charter article by article.
With regard to the allegation that the proposed and the passed drafts were not the same, the defendants argued that while there were adjustments to the draft, these followed the procedure strictly and were acknowledged.
More investigation will be conducted by the committee. The final say on the impeachment will come three days after the closing case statement is read.