Most Thais back new charter

AS MUCH AS 70 per cent of the Thai population supports the principles of the new constitution, the chief charter drafter said yesterday.

Borwornsak Uwanno, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), cited the results of a public opinion survey conducted recently by the CDC.

He said more surveys would be conducted on issues the respondents did not agree with, but he did not elaborate on them.

The chief drafter said that people should not to be too sceptical about the provision for a non-elected prime minister in the new charter.

Borwornsak, who was speaking to 100 invited journalists at parliament to seek their support, said he was accommodating the idea of having two-thirds of MP votes as the minimum requirement for endorsing a non-MP as prime minister. The CDC chairman rejected the idea suggested by some of limiting the term of a non-MP prime minister to a single year. However, he added that people should not be "too paranoid".

Additionally, Borwornsak said the new charter would not define what constitutes a state of political crisis to allow an outsider to be voted by MPs as prime minister. He said doing so would itself trigger another crisis.

Borwornsak urged the media present yesterday to accurately, quickly and impartially report the content of the new charter to the public. He insisted that the CDC truly listens to the public's feedback and this is not a matter of "ritual". He said the committee is willing to accommodate views that differed from those of its members.

He dubbed the new charter as one that looks back and forward at the same time and seeks to empower citizens, solve conflicts and bring about reconciliation.

Borwornsak added that the new charter is also aimed at balancing the imbalanced political system and solving the problem of corrupt politicians.

Citizens, said Borwornsak, must be as participants in politics as per the new charter, through mechanisms such as Citizens Assembly, and provincial-level scrutiny assembly that would exist in all 77 provinces. It would allow voters to recall politicians who have been investigated and indicted by the National Moral Assembly, also a new body to be created under the new charter.

Regarding the new party-list system, Borwornsak said people will have the chance to vote and choose who they would like to have as the top candidates on the party list. In the previous system, the party chief decided on who would be at the top of the party-list. This, said Borwornsak, means politicians would have to try harder to win the hearts of the voters and not just please the party boss.

Regarding Senate members, Borwornsak said he was open to the idea of having senators being selected through professional representation, wherein people from each major profession decide who from their profession should represent them as senators.

Meanwhile, CDC member Manit Suksomjit, who is in charge of public communication, added that 11 new bodies will be created under the new charter, which would strengthen people's participation in politics. These include a consumer protection organisation and the Independent Commission to Promote National Reconciliation, among others.