Somsak joins MPs to defy charter court

House Speaker denies following Thaksin order

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont has joined Pheu Thai MPs to defy the Constitution Court's order for them to submit an explanation of the move to amend Section 68 of the charter.

Members of the Motherland Protection group gather at the Constitution Court yesterday to show moral support for the court’s nine judges. Red-shirt protesters are camped outside the court seeking the bench’s ouster. APICHIT JINAKUL

He said he will not submit an explanation to the court, and he is not acting on the instructions of the ruling Pheu Thai Party or former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Somsak is one of 312 MPs and senators who have signed in support of a bill seeking to amend Section 68.

Mr Somsak was earlier reported to have joined 20 Pheu Thai MPs who have decided to break the party's resolution not to submit an explanation to the court but he denied this yesterday.

Section 68 allows people to complain directly to the court over acts deemed harmful to the constitutional monarchy. The amendment would require complaints to be made first with public prosecutors.

Pheu Thai MPs are now challenging the court's authority by refusing to submit written statements in defence of their charter amendment move.

The ruling party also plans to submit an open letter to the court rejecting its jurisdiction.

The charter court ordered them to submit their explanations about the charter amendment move after the court accepted for consideration a petition by Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn.

The senator has asked the court to rule on the legality of the move to amend Section 68.

He says the amendment would deprive the public of its right to raise issues with the court.

Mr Somsak said parliament was complying with an earlier court ruling that any charter amendment must be done section-by-section. Therefore, he said he did not think it was necessary to explain himself to the court again.

Mr Somsak said he must be impartial as parliament president, but this time he agreed with the ruling party.

Deputy parliament president Wisut Chai-arun said yesterday he and fellow deputy Charoen Chankomol would travel to Hong Kong to meet Thaksin on Thursday.

Mr Wisut said Mr Somsak will also fly to meet Thaksin there tomorrow.

He said discussions would centre around the work of the parliament.

Meanwhile, about 100 members of a group called Motherland Protection yesterday went to the charter court to submit a letter of moral support for the judges.

The group entered the court's office through the back gate to avoid any confrontation with red-shirt protesters who have been rallying in front of the court since Monday last week.

The red shirts are demanding all nine judges step down after the court decided to review whether the charter amendment bills being vetted by parliament were constitutional.

Scuffles broke out yesterday between red-shirt supporters and officials from the Religious Affairs Department who tried to persuade monks taking part in the rally to withdraw from the protest.

Pol Maj Sa-ngiam Samranrat, a member of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and an adviser attached to the Prime Minister's Office, filed a complaint yesterday with the Crime Suppression Division against the nine Constitution Court judges.

He accused the judges of instigating rebellion and unrest in violation of sections 113, 114 and 116 of the Criminal Code.

Pol Maj Sa-ngiam said he was acting on his own after having filed a similar complaint against the judges with the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Attorney-General and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

He believed the judges had exceeded their authority stated in the constitution by accepting for consideration several petitions against legislators for proposing charter amendment bills.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the red-shirt protesters are clearly breaking the law by threatening the court's judges.

He said he found it unacceptable that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had defended the red shirts' protest against the charter court.