New Constitution Drafting Committee in Thailand will look to old charters

PHOTO: Singapore Press Holdings

THE CHARTER drafting process may not have to start from scratch and certain elements of the recently rejected draft may be resurrected to help maintain peace and order, some members of the new Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) said yesterday.

Apichart Sukhagganond, former Election Commission (EC) president and ex-Supreme Court judge, said the panel had yet to lay out its framework but it was likely that it would take previous charters into account when drafting the new one. Apichart, who was appointed as CDC member yesterday along with 20 others, said he was not worried about the task as he trusted that this round would be sufficiently open to public participation to satisfy all concerned parties.

"I myself, with 33 years of experience in the judicial field plus more than seven years at the EC, will do my best to draft this charter," he said.

He said former members of the previous CDC could be invited by the new one as advisers, as they have charter-drafting experience.

Chartchai na Chiangmai, another CDC member and a professor at the National Institute of Development Administration, said the 1997 and 2007 constitutions, as well as the recently rejected draft, should be brought to the table for consideration in the present context to serve various needs in society. However, the new charter must not be easily torn down while responding to both short- and long-term challenges, including maintaining democratic principles.

Chartchai said it was not necessary for the new committee to start from scratch as the members already had resources in hand, while some key elements such as a "national strategic reform and reconciliation committee" could be adjusted with clear conditions put in place in order to gain public acceptance.

Udom Rathamarit, a CDC member and law professor at Thammasat University, said the committee would garner input from the public to include in its work for broader acceptance. He disagreed with the previous proposal for elements like the national strategic reform and reconciliation committee, and said this should be considered in order to rewrite it.

Meanwhile, Surachai Liengboonlertchai, vice chairman of the National Legislative Assembly, said the NLA had set up a subcommittee to study the constitution and give its input to the CDC to facilitate the process. He said the NLA's representative on the CDC, Niwat Sripen, would liase between the two agencies so they could formulate organic laws for the drafting and upcoming polls.

Some NLA members said the new CDC's work would not be much different from that of the old panel as it must follow the same frameworks.