Dems pledge to challenge all charter bills

Boycotting vetting panel would only help govt

The Democrat Party has vowed to challenge all the charter amendment bills at the vetting committee stage.

Party MP Warong Dejkitvikrom, a member of the committee vetting the amendment bills for sections 68 and 237 of the constitution, affirmed that Democrat members will participate in all three committees deliberating the bills.

Boycotts by Democrat members could pave the way for the government to ram through the amendment procedure quickly, he said.

Mr Warong added there is a high possibility that Democrat members will ask for changes in every bill and request the changes be approved by a joint House and Senate parliamentary sitting.

The bills involve sections 68 and 237, Section 190 and sections relating to whether senators are elected or appointed.

The bill involving Section 68 contains an amendment to prohibit the public from directly lodging complaints with the Constitution Court over threats to the constitutional monarchy.

Section 237, which outlines penalties for political parties when their members commit election fraud, would also be revised.

Section 190 would be rewritten to enable the signing of international contracts to be carried out without parliament's approval.

Another committee member and Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat asserted the party MPs will do their utmost to prevent the bills passing.

Section 68 must maintain the public's right to lodge complaints with the court, Mr Nipit said, adding that Section 237 must include the revocation of political rights for a party's executive members when they are involved in electoral fraud.

Sen Direk Thungfang, who is the panel's chairman, said the vetting will be held every Wednesday and Thursday, starting from tomorrow.

He said the deliberation of the bills will be open to different points of view.

Sen Direk said the 2007 constitution must be amended in various areas as it resulted from a dictatorship.

"Do not claim that it [the amendment of the constitution] will scrap the people's rights because the entire charter was drafted by the coup- makers," Sen Direk said.

"The amendment to Section 68 will help clear up the confusion after the petition was submitted to the Constitution Court."

Pheu Thai MP and government whip Amnuay Klangpa said the vetting sessions will last 15 days as House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranond had already confirmed.

The call by the Democrat Party for the bill to be deliberated for 60 days had been shot down, Mr Amnuay said.

Meanwhile, former senator Ruangkrai Leekijwanich said he would lodge a petition with the charter court today to revoke the political rights of 11 executive members and the leader of the Democrat Party.

He is lodging the suit to counter that filed by Sen Somchai Sawaengkarn with the court on Tuesday, which was aimed at derailing the government's charter amendment debate. The court agreed to consider the petition against the bills but declined to issue an immediate injunction. The House passed the bills at their first reading, and sent them to the vetting panels.

About the author

Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Reporter