Reformers, drafters ready for review of new Thailand charter

Reformers, drafters ready for review of new Thailand charter

The National Reform Council is prepared to start a week-long debate on the draft charter today, with 80 of its 208 members signing up for a speaking slot.

Alongkorn Polabutr, secretary-general of the NRC whips, said yesterday that each of the 80 NRC members would have about 15 minutes on the floor.

The meetings will run from 9am-9pm every day until Saturday.

Borwornsak Uwanno, president of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), will kick off the proceedings by going over the framing process and reviewing salient points in the end product.

The first part of the presentation will detail the CDC's work over the past four months and content of the proposed charter. The presentation will last two hours before it yields the floor to the NRC. Evaluation of the NRC will start with scrutiny of the first section of the charter and then continue sequentially until the last section.

Borwornsak said the charter was an attempt to empower people, ensure clean and balanced politics, promote a fair and equitable society and foster a peaceful society.

Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, spokesman for the CDC, said the drafters were ready to explain details in the charter to the reformers, in particular the issue related to 60 NRC members who will remain in power after the coup as members of the National Reform Mobilisation Assembly (NRMA).

Section Four of the charter allows 60 members of the NRC to remain as part of the NRMA. This has raised concern in some corners of society on whether members of junta-installed institutions want to keep a grip on power after an election is held.

Kamnoon explained why 60 Reform Council members should be part of the 120-strong NRMA.

"The reason why 60 NRMA members should come from the NRC is because there is a need to ensure continuity of the reform and reconciliation process," he said.

Once politics returns to normal, it may be difficult to get reforms enacted. This is partly because political parties may not have the courage to take on issues that risk eroding their popularity.

"It is necessary to include Section Four in the new constitution as Article 35(7) of the provisional constitution of 2014 mentions an effective mechanism that will help to reform the social structure and push forward the economy," he said.

Such a mechanism is essential to create justice and prevent future administrations from handicapping the country's economy in the long run. The CDC was just doing what was prescribed by

the interim constitution, he said.

"The CDC is ready to answer questions related to this issue," he said.

Although many NRC members paid much attention to Section Four, there were members who supported the clause and many not in favour of it, he said.

CDC ready to listen to NRC comments

However, if the NRC sees the need to amend some elements, the CDC was ready to listen to their comments. All suggestions and remarks would be considered from May 25 up to July 23, he said.

Despite the explanation provided by the CDC spokesman, concerns still loom over the 60 NRC members who would be allowed to continue to have power.

Jurit Laksanawisit, a former Democrat party-list MP, called on the charter writers not to insult people with contrasting opinions and to hold a public referendum for the charter.

Critics of the charter were honest in their desire to see a better version than the one the coup makers tore apart, he said, referring to opinions by politicians offered to the Drafting Committee.

But he said the CDC should not have dismissed politicians by saying their views represented only 5,000 people.

If the new charter did no go through the plebiscite process, it may be ripped up in the future, he said.

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