Hopes dim for better charter

Hopes dim for better charter

The constitution has always been part and parcel of the country's political crisis. It's therefore no surprise that salvation also lies in the hope that a new, fair and inclusive charter will materialise soon.

It's unfortunate that a profound sense of discontent still marks Constitution Day today.

The motion to amend the charter is still pending its third reading in parliament.

It's hoped that early next year a public referendum will be held to ask if people will approve the charter rewrite.

If everything goes well, a constitution drafting committee should be established after that to fulfil the crucial task of drafting yet another charter that will hopefully govern the country's move towards reconciliation and guarantee people's rights and freedom while ensuring that a democratic regime proceeds with a proper checks and balances system.

For these lofty goals to come true, the constitution drafting committee will be the key.

While there are still hopes that the latest attempt at constitution amendment will bring about change for the better, sadly they are not high.

That the current constitution must be amended is probably the only thing politicians from all political spectra seem to agree on.

Unfortunately, the consensus ends there.

When it comes to major points and details of what should be changed, differences of opinions are vast and conflicting to the point of being irreconcilable.

How charter amendment has proceeded does not fill everyone with confidence either.

After highly contentious debates, the parliament rejected the so-called people's charter proposal supported by more than 100,000 people and four other versions.

Only the government's draft and another one by the opposition were accepted. Both are seen as proposing minimal changes.

Even now, some senators are still opposed to the idea of having a new constitution drafting committee.

They reportedly tried to block the establishment of the committee, and even attempted to derail the charter amendment process altogether by petitioning the Constitutional Court that the move does not comply with the charter.

The delay tactics must be stopped.

The country's political conflicts have seen no sign of calming down. Since constitutional change is one issue that lies at the heart of the strife, and is indeed one that offers rare common ground for all sides, the process must be expedited rather than delayed.

To honour the spirit of Constitution Day, all MPs whether from the government or opposition side and senators should ensure that the constitution drafting committee comprises people who are well-respected by all sides.

Most of all, the new drafters must be seen as having no political bias, an essential attribute in times of deep social division like this, which will go on to ensure that the results of their efforts will be recognised as the genuine highest law for everyone.

It's also essential that the new drafting process has built-in extensive channels for the public to take part.

Their opinions and yearnings must be taken into account as the new charter is drafted.

Thailand has been a very wasteful country when it comes to constitutions. The latest attempt to come up with yet another charter may not be an inspiring one so far. But there is still room for hope.

Editorial

Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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