Pheu Thai rejects ruling

The Pheu Thai Party mounted a strong challenge to the Constitution Court on Thursday by rejecting its Wednesday ruling on the charter amendment draft seeking to have a fully elected Senate.

  • Published: 22/11/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan reads out a party statement rejecting the Constitution Court’s ruling on Thursday. The court dismissed the government’s draft charter amendment on the make-up of the Senate. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

It also announced it will seek the impeachment of the court judges and file complaints against them for alleged malfeasance in office and for committing lese majeste in rejecting the amendment draft while it is pending royal approval.

The party vowed to push through another amendment draft in a bid to rewrite the whole charter. The draft was shot down by the court last year.

The decisions were announced by Pheu Thai leader Charupong Ruangsuwan in a show of defiance against the court's authority.

Mr Charupong said Pheu Thai will not accept the court's ruling and would convince coalition parties and senators to back the impeachment and criminal prosecution of the five Constitution Court judges who rejected the amendment draft.

The draft would have empowered voters to elect all senators. The court saw it as an attempt by politicians to control the Lower and Upper houses.

Mr Charupong said the court violated the constitution by accepting complaints against the charter amendment for consideration. He said Section 291 of the constitution empowered parliament to change the charter, saying this was affirmed by the court's ruling last year that parliament had the power to amend the charter section by section.

Mr Charupong said the court also clearly interfered with the legislature's power when it ruled that MPs had violated parliamentary regulations in casting their votes on the draft on the behalf of others.

He said it was parliament's job to rule whether any of the MPs had violated its regulations in doing so.

Pheu Thai Party strategist Chusak Sirinil said the impeachment of the five judges was considered necessary because the judges had committed alleged malfeasance under Section 157 of the Criminal Code.

Pheu Thai will also accuse the judges of lese majeste under Section 112 of the Criminal Code for ruling against the amendment draft that the prime minister has already sent to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai Samart Kaewmeechai yesterday said MPs would drop the draft amendment on the Senate's composition permanently. Instead, they would revive for deliberation a draft amendment to Section 291 of the constitution which was shelved last year in the wake of its second reading.

He said the court did not rule against the amendment to Section 291. The court only advised that parliament hold a public referendum if it was to rewrite the charter.

Therefore, after a whole new charter is drafted, a public referendum would be held on the new charter before it is proposed to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement.

Mr Samart said the process would comply with the advice of the court and he wondered how the court would react.

The MP also criticised the court for interfering with the legislature's power in rejecting the amendment draft on the composition of the Senate on Wednesday.

He said the court ruled the draft violated Section 68 of the constitution which prohibits attempts to overthrow the monarchy and unconstitutional efforts to seize power.

Mr Samart, who was the chairman of a parliamentary committee scrutinising the amendment draft on the make-up of the Senate, said Pheu Thai Party legal experts would file a lawsuit with the Court of Justice to accuse the judges of malfeasance.

Opposition chief whip Jurin Laksanavisit said Pheu Thai's plans to change Section 291 showed some in the party were still keen to absolve wrongdoers in corruption cases under the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

A complete rewrite of the constitution could affect Section 309 of the present charter that protected the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, Mr Jurin said.

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