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NLA president delays action on MP bill pending Prayut’s answer

Mar 29. 2018
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By THE NATION

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THE LEGISLATIVE assembly will seek a Constitutional Court verdict regarding the constitutionality of the bill on MP elections only after it is clear that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has not done so or submitted the bill for royal endorsement, the assembly’s president said yesterday.

Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, president of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), said he had received a petition from NLA members asking him to seek a court ruling on the matter.

He said he would later ask Prayut in writing whether he had submitted the bill, which was passed by the NLA, for royal endorsement or had sought a court verdict himself.

If Prayut had not taken either action, Pornpetch said he would forward the NLA members’ petition to the Constitutional Court.

The NLA president also said that if the assembly did not get a reply from Prayut by the deadline on April 12, he would no longer be obliged to seek a Constitutional Court verdict on the NLA’s behalf.

Earlier, a group of lawmakers requested in writing that Pornpetch seek a Constitutional Court verdict regarding the constitutionality of the bill on MP elections, an assembly member said yesterday.

NLA member Kittisak Ratanawaraha said 27 NLA members, including himself, submitted their petition to the assembly’s president yesterday morning.

Their petition pointed to certain clauses in the MP election bill that could be deemed unconstitutional, he said. These included a provision that would deprive non-voters of their right to become political officials and a clause that would allow election officials to assist disabled and elderly voters in casting their ballots.

Critics have warned that those provisions could be deemed unconstitutional and cause an election to be declared void.

“I don’t know when the petition will be filed with the Constitutional Court. That will be decided by the seniors,” Kittisak said, appearing to refer to Pornpetch. 

“I believe that this process of seeking the court’s verdict will not affect the election road map,” he said.

The NLA sought the court’s verdict on a similarly controversial bill on the senator selection but it opted not to do the same for the MP election, arguing that doing so would further delay the next election.

Meanwhile, Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday asked the Constitutional Court to complete its interpretation of the charter in a timely manner in order to prevent the possible delay of the next election.

Prawit maintained there would be no further delays to the election. He added that the NLA had to seek a court ruling on the constitutionality of the two bills on the MP election and on the senator selection – which are required for the next election to be held.

“I want the interpretation to be done quickly. That’s all and there’s no problem,” he told reporters.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Chatchai Sarikulya yesterday dismissed a claim that the NLA was seeking a Constitutional Court verdict on the MP election law because they wanted to cause a delay in the election.

He also defended Prayut, saying that he had made it clear he wanted no further election delays.

“The prime minister said clearly that he would not get involved with the NLA’s process. If the election has to be postponed, that has nothing to do with General Prayut,” Chatchai said.

 

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