SUNDAY, February 25, 2024

iLaw wants question framed by it to be used for charter referendum

iLaw wants question framed by it to be used for charter referendum

A pro-democracy activist network, iLaw, has called for active involvement of the people in the Constitution-writing process, after the Pheu Thai Party pledged to hold a referendum on writing a new constitution as soon as it takes office.

The Pheu Thai-led coalition, if it succeeds in taking the country’s reins, has promised to propose the holding of a public referendum on whether a new Constitution should be written in its very first Cabinet meeting.

The alliance reckons that the current Constitution is one of the major problems facing Thailand.

Following that pledge, iLaw posted on its website: “The big issue is, what will be the question in the referendum? If we let the mixed-up government come up with the question, it may be filled with dishonest tactics.”

The network cited as proof the referendum to draft the 2017 Constitution, claiming the questions in that referendum were lengthy, ambiguous, and convoluted to mislead respondents.

iLaw said there were two questions in that referendum, namely, “Would you approve or disapprove of the whole 2017 Constitution?” and the additional question was about whether senators should participate in the election of the prime minister. More than 15 million people agreed on them.

To avoid a repeat of that scenario, iLaw has launched a campaign asking for people's support so that it could propose the question for the government to use in the upcoming referendum.

Yingcheep Atchanont, the executive director of iLaw, told a campaign opening event held at Bangkok Art & Culture Centre in Bangkok on Sunday that under the 2021 Referendum Act, people can submit a petition asking the Cabinet to use their own questions in the referendum, but that petition needs to be backed by at least 50,000 people.

Yingcheep said the question framed by iLaw poses: “Would you agree that Parliament must amend the whole version of the 2017 Constitution via members of the Constitution Drafting Assembly who must be elected by the people?"

He said the network requires the backing of at least 50,000 people before August 20 in order to propose the request before the first Cabinet meeting.

The network leader said that the proposed question focuses on two issues.

First, a new constitution must be rewritten in its totality; there must be no rules forbidding amendments to certain categories or sections, he said.

Second, the Constitution Drafting Assembly must be elected by the people via a verified process, he added.

However, Pheu Thai had said earlier that it would not amend sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution which concern the Monarchy.

Those who want to support the campaign can sign the petition via ConForAll or visit the iLaw headquarters in the Phya Thai district of Bangkok.