Referendum should 'focus on key charter points'

Referendum should 'focus on key charter points'
Members of National Legislative Assembly take part in a meeting at the Parliament

The National Legislative Assembly yesterday threw its support behind submitting the new constitution to a public vote of confidence, but only on critical points, as most of it is regarded as fine already.

The NLA all agrees that a referendum should be held," deputy president Peerasak Porchit said yesterday.

"A public referendum should not be focused on whether to adopt or reject the whole constitution, as it may prevent good elements [from being implemented].

"However, voting on articles that are crucial would not be too difficult for the general public to understand," he said.

"So far, people from many provinces would like to see a referendum on the new charter," he said.

There was no need to compare the new constitution to its 1997 or 2006 predecessors.

Each of them had some weaknesses that led to a coup taking place. A plebiscite should focus only on the new charter, he said.

Surachai Liengboonlertchai, first vice-president of the NLA, said the referendum should be limited to the current version.

If there were an amendment, the new constitution should be acceptable to the public.

There was no need to bring up the 1997 constitution and introduce it to the public, as it had already shown some deficiencies in the past, he said.

The NLA has been mostly concerned about the political structure, as there were many controversial issues such as the complexity in the process of filling senate seats.

According to the draft, voters in all 77 provinces would cast a ballot for "selected candidates", with 15 senators nominated by professional associations and 20 from among high-ranking government officials, 30 would be "experts" in their fields and 58 would come from a selection process.

The NLA would like to see the same number of senators elected and nominated.

Peerasak said the NLA wants to see more constituency MPs, as the draft had reduced their number to 250 from 400 before. The reason was locals were very attached to the MPs that they directly elected from their constituency.

As for an unelected prime minister, the NLA would like the constitution to be more precise about the conditions for someone to be nominated by the House.

Surachai said the draft was now in a process of evaluation.

The NLA had discussed things in detail and would meet tomorrow to finalise its position before it sends it recommendations to the Constitution Drafting Committee no later than the third week of this month, he said.

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