No protests outside charter debate

Neither supporters nor their antagonists demonstrated at the parliament on Monday when senators and MPs began a three-day joint debate on controversial constitutional amendments.

  • Published: 1/04/2013 at 04:24 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The only sign of a demonstration was a handful of red-shirts, fewer than 10 today, who have been camped in tents outside parliament for two years in support of the Pheu Thai-led government.

Even so, three companies of police were deployed there to maintain law and order on Monday

Debate on three bills to amend the charter section by section began about 10.30am. The bills will be proposed individually for a first reading vote at the end of the debate on Wednesday. If passed, a House panel will be formed to scrutinise them. 

People’s Alliance for Democracy spokesman Panthep Wongpuapan said PAD leaders would meet on Thursday to discuss the current political situation, especially the charter change bills and the government’s administration of the country. They would hold a press conference at 11am that day to announce their position. 

The yellow-shirt PAD  has strongly opposed any change to the 2007 constitution.

Tul Sitthisomwong, leader of the anti-red shirt multicoloured movement, said his group was closely monitoring the government’s all-out attempt to change the 2007 constitution.

He believed the bills would easily pass the first parliamentary vote. The group would rally outside parliament for the third and final readings of the amendment bills to ensure that no amnesty was secretly slotted into the legislative agenda.

The bills, backed by over 200 MPs and senators, seek to change four sections - 68, 117, 190 and 237 - of the constitution. Sections 68 and 237 will be amended under one bill, and the rest in other bills.

Backers of the bills want Section 68 changed so the public cannot directly ask the Constitution Court to examine moves deemed detrimental to constitutional monarchy. All petitions would be first vetted by the Attorney-General Department.

An amendment to Section 117 would see the election of all senators, rather than half being appointed.

Section 190 is targeted to change the current requirement that all international contracts go through parliament. It would exempt most agreements, including foreign trade agreements.

Amending Section 237 would prevent a party from being dissolved when a member commits electoral fraud.

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