Thailand's CDC allays fears on outsider PM

Constitution drafters yesterday attempted to allay concerns about allowing a political outsider to become prime minister, saying the new charter would be written in a way that a non-elected premier would only be temporary and will have to get strong support from Parliament.

General Lertrat Ratanavanich, spokesman for the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), yesterday rejected suspicion that the charter drafters were aiming to allow the junta to cling to power.

Lertrat said that the charter drafters would establish a mechanism to ensure that Parliament can resort to a non-elected PM only when the country faces a crisis or a deadlock. Three-fourths of MPs in Parliament must support the non-elected PM.

He said the chosen non-elected PM would only run the country temporarily - 6-8 months - before calling a new election, adding that the new charter would not have more than 300 articles.

Meanwhile, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, another CDC spokesman, said the CDC agreed in principle with the new political system. He posted the five pages of the document, which outlines the new political principles, in his personal FB page.

The CDC has agreed to maintain the party-list system with as many as 200 MPs whereas the National Reform Committee (NRC) proposed scrapping the system.

Although the new political system proposed by the CDC has many proposals in common with those presented by the NRC, one of the differences is the CDC wants to keep the party-list system.

The party-list system as defined by the CDC, however, is different from the previous party-list system adopted by the earlier charters.

The CDC claimed that its proposed party-list system would not lead to what is called "the winner takes all" principle as existed in the previous charter. The number of total MPs will not be more than 480 - 200 party-list MPs and 250 constituency MPs, or one MP for each constituency. Under the so-called open list system, voters would decide how they want to rank the lists of MP candidates they want to represent them instead of allowing party leaders to rank the party-list MPs.

Election winners must have scores exceeding the number of "Vote No" ballots. This would enable voters to protest against a general election that they disapprove of.

Vote-buying would be harder, as the ballots would contain the picture of MP candidates and their names whereas previously only the number of the candidates appeared in the ballot papers. For the party-list system ballot paper, the name of the political party and the party symbol must appear in the ballot paper.

Sting operations designed to catch vote buyers red-handed is allowed, similar to illegal drug sting operation.

Politicians convicted of corruption and vote-buying would be banned for life from assuming posts in state and public companies.

MPs from the both the constituency and party-list system do not come under the banner of a party. The CDC claimed this would make MPs truly represent people and not be "servants" of any party.

The Senate consists of 200 senators (about half of Parliament), elected indirectly from people of many professions. Their roles include sponsoring bills, questioning and impeachment of the Cabinet and the PM, MPs, senators and high-ranking officials.

If a no-confidence motion is submitted within 48 hours of the passage of any bills, and the government receives less than half of the total votes after the no-confidence debate is completed, the bill will be rejected and the PM must dissolve Parliament.