By KHANITTHA THEPPAJORN
FROM November, when Thailand’s 20th constitution is expected to be promulgated, lawmakers will be busy drafting and amending underlying laws before the post-coup government makes way for its elected successor.
They are expected to be mobilised to expedite the laws, especially the most needed ones including the 10 organic laws supporting the general election, which is expected late next year, and a national strategy bill that is expected to pave a new development path for the country in the next 20 years.
The Cabinet will be occupied with getting governmental agencies to revise their laws. Independent agencies will be busy, too.
The junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) will play roles as supportive mechanisms. But unmentioned agencies will likely have to review their laws, too, to ensure they do not violate the soon-to-be enacted charter.
Some political observers view these hassles yet necessary procedures as another junta milestone it can use to boast about the worthiness of staging the 2014 coup. It is also, inevitably, a critical reason why the public should pay close attention to them.
The timeline for these laws has been addressed chronologically in the charter draft. Within two months from November, if there is no serious disruption, the Cabinet will appoint an independent committee to study, suggest, and draft education laws with the aim of revising the 1999 education bill to ensure it covers all education aspects – from pre-schooling to selective education. Education is part of the junta’s reform efforts and is addressed in the charter draft.
In the first four months after the charter is promulgated, the national strategy-related bills will be addressed. The Cabinet is expected to enact the national strategy laws. And in a bid to ensure that people from all sectors will contribute in strategy planning, a government-appointed committee will gauge stakeholders’ views before moving ahead with reshaping the country using these bills.
The Council of State will also draft regulations on the plans and processes of the government-driven strategies to ensure all sectors take part at every step. The council will hear the thoughts of the NRSA on the matter.
The Cabinet aims to amend the 2010 National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission Act within six months from November to reconstruct the independent agency in an effort to ensure it will manage frequencies for the benefits of the public.
Within the first eight months after the charter is in place, the Constitution Drafting Commission will critically have to finish drafting the 10 organic laws, with the first four laws principally involving general elections and covering MP elections, the Senate, political parties, and the Election Commission.
Drafting of the remaining six laws will follow that. They cover the ombudsman, anti-corruption, state auditing, the Constitutional Court’s criminal procedural codes against politicians, and the National Human Rights Commission.
Government agencies, as instructed by the Cabinet, will draft three laws on environmental and health impact assessments, the state’s fiscal disciplines, and the promotion of the public to combat corruption in the government and private sectors.
The heads of responsible agencies who fail to draft laws on deadline will be dismissed by the Cabinet. The NLA must complete reviewing the fiscal law draft within 60 days.
Also, within one year of the new Cabinet taking office, it must propose at least two bills relating to the justice system. One involves personnel management in the Justice Court and the Administrative Court, while the other is about personnel and budget management in attorney agencies.
The Constitutional Court and independent agencies will at the same time draft their codes of ethics to be used for politicians, judges, government officers, and others.
It is expected the codes will result in harsh punishments against those found to have wrongfully interfered with governmental officers for their benefit or the benefit of others.
The Cabinet will also touch on police reform laws following loud calls to do so by reformers.