Political parties call for changes to new Thailand charter

Political parties call for changes to new Thailand charter

POLITICIANS from the rival Pheu Thai and Democrat parties agreed at yesterday's discussion on reconciliation hosted by the Army that the country's economy was now "really bad", a participant said.

Pheu Thai politician Worachai Hema said after the meeting that they also agreed the draft constitution needed to be revised, or the country would experience a "crisis even worse than before".

He said they called on the constitution drafters to heed advice from politicians and members of the public as to how the draft charter should be revised.

Participants at yesterday's discussion expressed satisfaction, saying the discussions went well and covered such issues as the new constitution, justice and the economy.

Political figures and activists from the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties took part in the second round of the reconciliation talks under the theme "The Future of Thailand", organised by the Centre for Reconciliation and Reform.

The closed-door meeting, chaired by Army chief of staff General Chatchalerm Chalermsuk, was held at the Thai Army Club and lasted about six hours.

Most of the participants refused to talk to reporters waiting outside. They simply left the venue after the meeting ended at about 4pm.

Among the participants were Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, Pheu Thai politicians Worachai, Jatuporn Promphan, Nuttawut Saikuar, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Noppadon Pattama, and Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

Other participants included Seri Wongmontha, Chermsak Pinthong and Somsak Kosaisuk.

Some of the participants, including political figures from Thaksin Shinawatra's camp, left the talks early.

Jatuporn said the overview of the talks was good, adding that the chairman, General Chatchalerm, was open to suggestions from all sides.

Jatuporn, who is also chairman of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said he had expressed his concerns over the draft constitution whose contents he believed would trigger the same old political "vicious cycle" and would ultimately cause inestimable damage to the country.

He said for the country to move forward, the new constitution must be democratic. If not, the best thing that could deter a catastrophe is a national referendum on the draft charter.

Jatuporn said he had no concerns about the powers-that-be wanting to remain in power for a long time. Being in power was like playing with fire, he said.

Foreign ministers of former Pheu Thai governments, Noppadon and Surapong, agreed that the talks went well. They confirmed the issues covered at the meeting involved general principles that would take the country forward.

No particular persons, not even Thaksin, were discussed during the meeting, they said.

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