Pheu Thai battles charter court and voting video
The conflict between Pheu Thai and the Constitution Court took a fresh turn on Thursday when a party MP asked police to take action against eight judges of the court, laying a complaint they had abused their authority in favour of the government's opponents.
- Published: 26/09/2013 at 05:33 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
The complaint filed with the Crime Suppression Division by Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema adds a new complexity to the cases already before the charter court.
The court will soon be at the centre of attention again after the Democrat Party's submission of a video clip showing a Pheu Thai MP alledgedly inserting electronic ID cards of absent MPs and senators into the electronic voting machine during the joint parliamentary sessions on Sept 10-11.
The chamber was at the time debating the charter amendment bill seeking to change the composition of the Senate.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit on Thursday said he had strong doubts about the veracity of the video clip, claiming it was doctored with the intention of disrupting the attempt to change the charter.
The court has not decided on this issue, but has already accepted two petitions challenging the charter amendment bill for consideration.
Democrat spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut on Thursday rejected Mr Prompong's claim, saying the evidence in the video clip was "crystal clear'' that the Pheu Thai MP was caught committing a serious breach of parliamentary regulations.
Yutthapong Charassathien, Pheu Thai MP for Maha Sarakham, has already admitted he is the person in the video clip, but denied that he was voting for other lawmakers.
Another case filed by Senator Somjate Boonthanom and Democrat Party MP for Songkhla Wirat Kalayasiri asks the court to rule whether the government's charter amendment bill seeking to alter the composition of the Senate violates Section 68 of the constitution, and to suspend the third and final reading, scheduled for Saturday, until judgement is passed.
They argue that the bill -- which provides for the election of all 200 senators and terminates the appointed senators -- violates Section 68, which deals with acts that could undermine the constitutional monarchy or potentially lead to the seizure of power through unconstitutional means.
Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket, a political analyst at the National Institute of Development Administration, told FM101 news programme on Thursday that the political focus had returned to the court again after its decision to take up the two petitions.
The court's ruling could damage the political status of lawmakers having voted for the charter change in the first and second reading if it turned against Pheu Thai, he said.
Two appointed senators on Thursday submitted a petition to the National Anti-Corruption Commission asking it to investigate 308 MPs and senators who proposed a bill seeking to amend the constitution and change the make-up of the Senate.
Senators Wanchai Sornsiri and Prasarn Marukhapitak said the 308 lawmakers might have violated Section 68 of the constitution in proposing the bill.
The bill was recently passed in its second reading by a joint sitting of parliament.
Mr Wanchai said several mistakes were made during the deliberation of the bill. For instance, lawmakers who reserved a slot to speak on the bill were not permitted to do so, and an MP was found using the electronic cards of other MPs to vote on the bill on their behalf.
The senator argued that the NACC must establish if the 308 lawmakers had breached Section 68 of the constitution as a result of these incidents.
Currently, an elected representative from each of the 77 provinces and 73 appointed senators make up the Senate. Under the amending legislation, the number of senators would be increased from the current figure of 150 to 200, and all would be elected. The families of MPs and former MPs would also be eligible to run for senate seats.
Pheu Thai MP Worachai claimed in his complaint to the Crime Suppression Division that the eight judges on the charter bench abused their power last year when they agreed to consider a petition filed by Senator Somjate Boonthanom and four other lawmakers.
The petition accused Mr Worachai and others of breaching Section 68 of the charter and threatening the country's democratic administration by proposing a bill to amend Section 291 of the constitution, to create a charter-drafting assembly to write a new constitution.
Karom Polpornklang, Mr Worachai's lawyer, said the eight judges, after receiving the petition, ordered parliament to delay voting on the bill in the third reading. The bill has since been stalled.
In doing so, the judges had committed malfeasance in violation of Sections 83 and 157 of the Criminal Code, he alleged.
Named in the complaint are Consitution Court judges Wasant Soypisuth, Charan Pakdithanakul, Jaroon Inthachan, Chalermpol Ek-uru, Nurak Mapraneet, Boonsong Kulbuppha, Supoj Khaimuk and Udomsak Nitimontree.
Mr Wasant, one of the eight judges, resigned as a Constitution Court judge, effective from Aug 1 this year.
Pol Col Prasopchoke Prommul, the deputy CSD chief, said he had accepted the complaint on behalf of his commander.
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