Opponents of parliament's consitution amendment bill laid out their positions to Constitution Court judges yesterday while government supporters challenged their testimony. The proceedings end today.
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Members of the news media listen to testimony at the Constitution Court. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Court tackles charter brouhaha
Expert says amendments must go to referendum
A referendum must be held first for the public to decide whether the constitution should be amended, a witness testifying against the government-sponsored charter amendment bill said Thursday.
Surapol Nitikraipoj, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, told the Constitution Court that the current constitution is the only charter that has been endorsed by a referendum.
Testifying on behalf of the complainants, he said the current constitution is important as the first direct exercise of power by the people and therefore it has a special status different from previous charters.
The court on Wednesday approved 15 witnesses – seven for the plaintiffs and eight for the defence – to testify at hearings Thursday and Friday. After the hearings, it will decide whether the bill to amend Section 291 of the constitution contravenes Section 68 of the charter. The court will hear from the defence team today.
Mr Surapol said the current charter can be amended, but any changes must start with the same process as when it was approved by a referendum and became law in 2007.
This means a referendum must be held to allow the public to decide if they agree with the government's move to rewrite the charter.
But as it happens, the government has now drawn up a charter amendment bill and tried to push for its passage before seeking public opinion, Mr Surapol said.
Some members of the public have been camping outside the Court to provide moral support for the Constitution Court judges. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Meanwhile, Chusak Sirinil, a lawyer representing the Pheu Thai Party, defended the government's position. Mr Chusak said that the complainants just took it for granted that the establishment of a constitution drafting assembly would lead to upheaval in the government.
Mr Chusak said that in the past, constitution drafting assemblies had also been created to amend constitutions and this could be regarded as a traditional practice.
On June 1, the Constitution Court ordered parliament to suspend the third reading of the legislation after accepting petitions arguing the charter change bill may constitute an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
In the morning session of the hearing, Constitution Court judge Nurak Mapraneet explained that the panel of judges will examine four issues – whether the court has authority to accept the petitions against the charter bill under Section 68 of the constitution; whether a whole new charter can be written under Section 291; whether the bill to amend Section 291 constitutes an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy or to acquire power to rule the country by unconstitutional means; and whether political parties involved in the charter rewrite bid would be dissolved if the other three issues are proven true.
media – newspapers, television, radio, etc. สื่อ
testimony – a formal statement about something that you say, know or experienced, usually given to a court of law คำให้การ
constitution – the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by รัฐธรรมนูญ
tackle – to make an organised and determine attempt to deal with a problem จัดการ
charter – a constitution รัฐธรรมนูญ
brouhaha – noisy excitement or complaints about something เสียงตูม ๆ
amendment – a change made to a law or agreement, in this case, to the constitution การแก้ไขกฎหมาย ในที่นี้หมายถึงการแก้ไขรัฐธรรมนูญ
referendum – an occasion when everyone in a country can vote to make a decision about one particular subject ประชามติ
witness – someone who tells a court or investigators what they know about a crime ผู้ให้การในศาล, พยาน
testify – to make a statement about something that you saw, know, or experienced, usually in a court of law ให้การเป็นพยาน
bill – a proposal for a law ร่างกฎหมาย
endorse – to express support for something แสดงความเห็นชอบ
on behalf of – as a representative of ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
complainant – a person who makes a formal complaint in a court of law ผู้ร้อง(ทุกข์),โจทก์,ผู้ฟ้องร้อง
current – of the present time ปัจจุบัน
exercise power – to use your power or rights ใช้อำนาจ
status – position สถานภาพ
approve – to give official permission อนุมัต
plaintiff – someone who makes a legal complaint against someone else in court โจทก์
defence – all the things that are said and shown in a court case to prove that accusations are not true การสู้คดี
contravene – to do something that is not allowed by a rule, law, or agreement ฝ่าฝืน
passage – the process of discussing/approving a bill in a parliament so that it can become law การผ่าน
moral support – giving someone encouragement ให้กำลังใจ
meanwhile – at the same time ในเวลาเดียวกัน
defend – to say things to support someone or something ปกป้อง
position – stance; an attitude or view about an issue that you state clearly; position จุดยืน
take for granted – to believe something is true without first making sure that it is สมมติ, เหมา
establishment – the process of starting or creating something การสถาปนา, การก่อตั้ง, การจัดตั้ง
draft – to write a document, plan, etc. that may be changed before it is finally accepted ร่าง
assembly – a group of people who have been elected or chosen in order to discuss issues and make decisions สภา, สมัชชา
upheaval – a sudden or violent change, especially one that affects people’s lives การเปลี่ยนแปลงที่ทำให้เกิดปัญหา
traditional – of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม
practice – a way of doing something การปฏิบัติ
suspend – to stop for a period of time ยกเลิกชั่วคราว, ระงับชั่วคราว
legislation – a law or set of laws suggested by a government and made official by a parliament การออกกฎหมาย
petition – an official document in which you ask a court to take legal action คำร้องต่อศาล
constitute – to be considered to be something ถือว่า, เห็นว่า, ประกอบด้วย
overthrow – to force a person or government out of power โค่นอำนาจ
constitutional monarchy – a system in which a country is governed by a king or queen whose are limited to those given under the constitution and laws of the country ระบอบประชาธิปไตยที่มีพระมหากษัตริย์เป็นประมุข
session – a formal meeting of an institution such as a parliament or a court การประชุม
panel – a group of people who make decisions or judgments คณะกรรมการ
issue – matter; a subject that people discuss or argue about ประเด็น
authority – the power to make decisions or tell people what to do อำนาจ, อำนาจในการสั่งการ
means – methods; ways วิธี, วิธีการ
bid – an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
dissolved – (of a group) ended ยุบ (พรรค)
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