Thai politicians against new draft charter 'because they fear scrutiny'

Thai politicians against new draft charter 'because they fear scrutiny'

Politicians have been criticising the draft charter because they fear scrutiny by the new independent bodies the document will set up, Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Borwornsak Uwanno said yesterday.

"What politicians actually worry about are the Citizen's Assembly and the National Ethics Assembly, along with the whole reform chapter, because this chapter will force politicians to obey the reform articles, which is in discord with what politicians intend to do," the CDC chairman said.

Borwornsak pointed out that political parties will under the new charter have to compete with political-interest groups for seats in Parliament and this prospect makes the parties unhappy.

As for the open-list party-list system, it gives the electorate the right to select such candidates themselves, something political parties used to have the sole power to do.

He said the previous system permitted parties to put their favoured candidates on top while those they disliked would be on the bottom of the list.

"Politicians have claimed that this constitution will weaken political parties, but in fact this charter is strengthening people's power," he insisted.

Asked when the next election will be held, the CDC chairman said that if there is to be a referendum, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) would have to amend the 2014 provisional constitution first.

The amendments of the provisional charter would also have to be done before reformers vote on whether they will approve the draft charter or not on August 6, thus prolonging the process by another three months.

If a referendum is held and receives the people's approval, the election might be held in May next year, he concluded.

"I personally believe that a referendum is necessary, while I believe the prime minister himself also wants one," he said.

In a related development, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said the CDC had drafted the charter in order to create a "parliamentary dictatorship".

Abhisit said the CDC should do away with Articles 181 and 182, which give the prime minister the authority to propose laws or decide which laws would be passed if the opposition does not file a no-confidence motion.

"The opposition parties will not be able to proceed with their work, and it is the first time that a parliamentary dictatorship will be lawfully created under the constitution," he said.

The Democrat leader also complained that there were many issues the drafters could not explain clearly and said he hoped that the CDC would amend those articles.

"If the CDC does not amend the draft and there is no referendum, this new charter will be a time-bomb for the country that will create conflicts no less severe than previous ones," Abhisit said , adding that the reason the NCPO staged the coup last year "would go to waste".

The CDC yesterday met to discuss general topics as it waited for the National Reform Council to submit motions for altering articles in the draft charter.

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