Thai Democrats urge Prayut to hold a referendum

Thai Democrats urge Prayut to hold a referendum

THE DEMOCRAT Party has urged the Prayut government to amend the interim charter to pave the way for a public referendum to be held on the draft constitution.

Democrat Party spokesman Ramet Rattanachaweng said a public referendum on the new charter was a must because the charter was binding on people across the country.

He said people were directly affected. Holding a plebiscite was necessary, as it would provide legitimacy to the charter, which would help prevent conflict and hassles in the future.

He said the public must be well informed about content in the draft charter before a referendum is held.

He rejected speculation that politicians' push for a public referendum was politically motivated and geared towards extending the term of the coup-installed government.

"We want a charter which is as democratic as possible. The people are the judge of the real intention of the Prayut government,'' he said.

Democrat Party deputy spokesman Pramual Aimpea urged the Constitution Drafting Committee to accept proposals from the National Reform Council to amend certain points in the charter, especially provision 181-182 on the power of the PM and allowing senators to impeach political officer holders.

"This will show whether the CDC is sincere in reforming the country or just wants to lay a political trap for the country,'' he said.

He said the public had not been informed about the contents of the draft charter because they had been hit hard by economic problems.

"If the 36 CDC members refuse to change the charter as proposed by the NRC, instead of spending Bt3 billion (S$118,320) on the referendum the government should use this money to shore up farm produce,'' he said.

Pramual praised the NRC members who threatened to vote down the charter if the CDC refused to amend the draft.

"But how many people are willing to commit suicide. If they do that, it is equal to playing the game of those in power, who would be allowed to cling to power,'' he said.

Snoh Thienthong, a key figure of the Pheu Thai Party, said the move by the CDC to ask for the approval of the Cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order to hold a public referendum was beyond his expectation.

"I could not believe that the CDC would be sincere in allowing public participation in the charter-drafting process. I fully support the council,'' he said.

Snoh, a veteran politician, said he did not mind delaying the general election in order to hold a referendum.

He said the country was in dire need of reform and the political problems facing the country for over a decade were caused by previous charters especially the 1997 charter, which gave birth to independent agencies such as the Election Commission that had too much power and brought about national conflicts and divisions.

"Nowhere else in the world can such a committee [the Election Commission] give yellow or red cards to anyone and especially when it is not politically neutral - ruling that one political camp is wrong and the other is right,'' he said.

The former Pheu Thai Party MP said former MPs of the party would meet to decide their next move if the National Legislative Assembly accepted the petition from the National Anti-Corruption Commission to impeach 250 former MPs for amending the 2007 Constitution regarding the make-up of the Senate.

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Prayut Chan-O-Cha
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