Govt orders mps to fight for new bills

The Pheu Thai Party has imposed a three-month overseas travel ban on its MPs to ensure support for crucial bills in parliament.

A party source said its legal team and core members expect an intense debate on charter amendment bills slated for a first reading in parliament from tomorrow to Wednesday. There will be attacks and counter attacks from the opposition Democrat Party, the source said.

The party needs all of its MPs present in parliament to push the amendment bills through the first reading.

The two trillion baht infrastructure loan bill _ approved by the House of Representatives in its first reading late on Friday _ also needs scrutinising and subsequently a third and final reading vote.

The loan bill begins 30 days of scrutiny in parliament on Tuesday. However, the current legislative session will end on April 20, before the work is finished. That means the scrutiny will carry over when the session reconvenes at the end of May.

A similar working time frame is also expected for the amendment bills.

Chief government whip Amnuay Khlangpha said three bills to amend the charter by section will be debated from 10.30am tomorrow. The bills will be put up individually for a vote after the debate ends at 10pm on Wednesday.

Mr Amnuay said 30 government MPs have so far signed up to join the debate.

The bills, backed by over 200 MPs and senators, seek to change four sections _ 68, 117, 190 and 237 _ of the constitution.

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.

An amendment to Section 117 will 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.

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

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said the party sees no merit in amending the charter.

Naris Khamnurak, the opposition whip secretary, said the Democrats were critical of changing Section 68, as it would stifles people's freedom to approach the Constitution Court..

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Writer: Aekarach Sattaburuth
Position: Reporter