Somsak confident of bills' passage
- Published: 1/04/2013 at 03:51 PM
- Online news:
Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont is confident the three charter amendment bills will be passed in the first reading at the end of the joint sitting debate of MPs and senators on Wednesday.
He believed the proposed amendments were in the people's interest.
It was a matter for the Constitution Court to decide on the constitutionality of any of the three bills if any members of parliament file a petition seeking a ruling, he said
On concerns expressed by some parliament members that Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanich should not also sit in the chair during the joint parliament meeting since he was one of those who proposed the bills, Mr Somsak said he believed Mr Nikom would be impartial.
When Mr Nikom later chaired the meeting, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and MP Boonyod Sukthinthai rose to protest.
Despite continuing protests, Mr Nikom insisted he had the right to chair the meeting. He challenged those who disagreed with him to petition the Constitution Court.
Finally, however, he let Mr Somsak take over the duty.
Of the three bills, the first is proposed by 308 MPs and senators. It seeks to amend Sections 111, 112, 115, 166, 117, 118, 120 and 241 and annul Sections 113 and 114 of the 2007 constitution.
The second bill, proposed by 314 MPs and senators, seeks to amend Section 190 concerning the requirement for parliament to approve all draft agreements made with foreign countries. Most would be exempted.
The third bill, backed by 311 MPs and senators, seeks to amend Section 68 and 237.
Section 68 concerns the people's right to petition the Constitution Court on seeing any move deemed detrimental to the constitution. The bill requires all petitions to be made through the Office of the Attorney General.
Section 237 concerns the five-year political ban on all executive members and the dissolution of a party if any executive member is found guilty of electoral fraud. Under the bill, only those found to have committed the offence would be punished.
Amnuay Klangpha, a Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri and chairman of the government whips, said under an agreement between the government, opposition and Senate whips, the meeting would be held from 10.30am-10pm on April 1, 9.30am-10pm on April 2, and 9.30am-10pm on April 3.
He said that of the 34 hours, eight would be for senators and 26 for MPs to debate.
Opposition MPs would be given 11 hours and government MPs 15 hours.
Jurin Laksanavisit, chief of the opposition whips, said he agreed with the meeting periods each day, but the government and opposition MPs should be given equal time in the debate, as was the tradition.
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