It now appears that the government is adopting a cautious approach in its attempt to rewrite the current constitution instead of ramming the pending charter amendment bill before parliament through its third and final reading.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra voiced her support for a referendum on the charter change issue before a final vote in parliament on the rewrite bill.
She said that both the Justice and Interior ministries had been assigned to settle on ways to ensure that charter changes were a participatory process involving the public.
The ''go slow'' approach is indeed a compromise move which will head off the unnecessary political confrontation which would be inevitable should the government press ahead with the amendment bill. Anti-government political groups such as the People's Alliance for Democracy, the multi-coloured group and the opposition Democrat Party have always suspected that the contentious bill which seeks to create a charter drafting assembly to write a new constitution is basically intended to whitewash deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and to neutralise all the charter-mandated independent organisations such as the Constitution Court, the Election Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission that the party is believed to hold in deep contempt for reasons that are well known.
Although welcome, the proposed referendum will be a pointless and wasteful exercise if the public casts votes in support of or against the rewriting of the charter _ in its entirety or in part _ while unaware or ignorant of the content of the current constitution.
The public needs to be informed about the charter and especially its shortcomings so that people can make an informed decision and not simply cast their votes without knowing anything about the law.
It should be the duty of the government as well as the media and civic society to inform the public and to encourage them to express their views through the holding of public forums.
The government has not been transparent about why the current charter needs to be rewritten in its entirety, although most of its content was taken from the 1997 Constitution that the Pheu Thai Party favours. The main argument against the current charter is that it's the product of the ''poison tree'', crafted by an assembly appointed by the 2006 coup-makers and, therefore, should be dumped.
That's not a valid enough justification for a major charter makeover, unless the ruling party harbours some hidden political agenda.
Apparently, as far as the Pheu Thai Party is concerned, the current charter is the main culprit and the root cause of today's political conflict and instability. Hence, the optimism about an improved political climate and reconciliation next year after the charter changes as anticipated by Thaksin.
But blaming the constitution for our country's political ills and conflicts is too simplistic and grossly misplaced.
As recently stated by Dr Kittisak Prokati, a professor of law at Thammasat University, the main problem is not with the charter but with Thai society and the politicians themselves.
The constitution will continue to be misused as a political tool for political gains until a culture of democratic rule is firmly established here and the public understands the charter's content.