Thai PM advised to hold off on bill

Thai PM advised to hold off on bill
Former prime minister and Chart Thai Pattana Party chief adviser Banharn Silapa-archa, seated, meets Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana at the party.

THAILAND - Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday called on the government to delay the charter amendment bill as it was pending outcome of a judicial review.

"Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should wait instead of risking the consequences by submitting the bill for royal endorsement," he said.

Abhisit explained that Yingluck had 20 days to review the matter after Parliament votes for the final passage of the bill today.

He warned that if Yingluck decides to seek the King's approval, she might end up having to take responsibility if the Constitutional Court ruling says the bill was unconstitutional.

He said he expected the high court to issue a ruling within 20 days, adding that if the judicial review takes longer, then the court might issue instructions on how the bill's submission to the Palace can be delayed.

He also hinted at the chance of a censure debate being launched in November, adding that the debate would likely focus on alleged corruption and incompetence.

Today, Parliament is scheduled to convene and vote on the final passage of the bill, which is designed to turn the Senate into a fully elected upper chamber. The opposition contends that such a transformation is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Senator Wicharn Sirichai-Ekawat has issued an open letter calling for the postponement of today's parliamentary vote on the bill. His argument is that such a vote cannot take place before the high court rules on the issue.

Yingluck, meanwhile, has declined to comment on the issue, only saying that she will attend the parliamentary voting session after she has completed inspecting flood-hit areas.

Pheu Thai MP Samart Kaewmechai said the Democrats had no legal basis to try to suspend the vote.

The Constitution's Article 154 prescribes for legislative voting on an Act of Parliament, but the vote in question is related to charter amendment, he said.

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