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Charter draft a worry for Democrats, Pheu Thai

Jan 31. 2016
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Parties say proposals would weaken the govt that would take office after next election
POLITICIANS from the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties have voiced concern that the new electoral system proposed in the new constitution draft would weaken governments and make them incapable of ruling the country after the next election.
However, Constitution Drafting Commission chairman Meechai Ruchupan argued that politicians should offer constructive criticism or suggestions rather than just grumble that they did not like the draft.
Chawalit Wichayasut, acting deputy secretary-general of Pheu Thai Party, said the weakest point in the constitution draft was the rules that would pave the way for coalition governments that would be weak and unstable.
Curbing corruption was surely an important item on the national agenda, he said. However, the issue was being exploited to conceal attempts to entrench the power of the current rulers, the Pheu Thai politician said. He said this attempt was visible in the proposed new electoral system, the provision for a non-MP prime minister, and the fact that members of the National Council for Peace and Order could run in the next election. In addition, the junta would have absolute control during the election and until the next government takes office, Chawalit said. He questioned how the public could be confident about the fairness of the polls. He called for adjustments to the draft charter otherwise the next government would not be able to serve the people properly.
Chaturon Chaisang, a key Pheu Thai member, shared a similar opinion on his Facebook page, saying the constitution would result in a weak government. He alleged that the constitution had been planned to take back power from the people. Besides the constitution, some 10 organic laws would also be written, he wrote. They included the national strategic plan as well as key reform points which ultimately would foster dictatorship and would persist for a very long time as the constitution also made amendments very difficult, Chaturon remarked.
“This constitution draft would kill all hopes of the situation getting better after the election,” the Pheu Thai figure wrote.
Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intrasombat said there were many points in the charter draft that needed to be fixed. Among them were the electoral system, the mandatory prime ministerial list, and the method of selection of senators.
He expressed concern that the single-ballot system would not be beneficial to voters because it would not truly reflect voters’ intentions. He said his party would release an official statement today about its views on the constitution draft.
Meanwhile, Meechai said he was not worried about the views of political parties and politicians who found the constitution unacceptable. He said they had attacked the draft because they did not like it. However, the drafters had to listen to “rational criticism”, he said. Those making such comments should also be specific about what they did not like in the draft and how it should be mended, Meechai added.
“We [drafters] have always listened to political parties. But their suggestions haven’t been very constructive or useful. For example, they would say the charter must be democratic and allow public participation. And we have done that. So, we don’t know what else we have to write,” the CDC chairman remarked. He also refuted the argument that the constitution would pave the way for an outsider prime minister, suggesting that politicians could write an electoral bill directing political parties to take an oath that they would not propose a non-MP to be the prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said yesterday that no constitution in the world could be 100 per cent democratic. So, people should not have such expectations of the current charter draft.

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