Writing with the hand, erasing with the foot

Writing with the hand, erasing with the foot

There's an old saying,"Writing with the hand, erasing with the foot!" And it certainly describes the conduct of the 135 members of the National Reform Council in voting down the draft constitution.

A total of 105 other NRC members voted in support of the draft charter, and there were seven abstentions.  

As for those who abstained, whatever their reason, I think their conduct is as unbecoming as the 135 who voted against the draft.

It is totally unthinkable that they could not decide whether to cast a "Yes" or "No" vote on such a crucial issue as the draft constitution. How shameful!

Well-informed sources in the NRC said that most members were supportive of the draft charter, including the contentious provisions for the proposed national strategic reform and reconciliation committee, the so-called crisis panel, and the mixed election system detested by all political parties.

The NRC was involved in all stages of the charter drafting process and they were briefed every week on the progress and any developments by a special panel headed by Pairoj Promsarn. Most of them did not object to any particular provisions of the draft, although a handful had vowed to ensure the draft was killed.

This was until Aug 31, when some military figures in the NRC began lobbying other members.

The lobbying became more intense as the Sept 6 vote neared, and momentum began to swing to the side opposing the draft charter.

Do not expect anyone to come out with a brave face and admit he was involved in the lobbying, or he was the mastermind of this political game.

In a way, many NRC members, who were mostly senior military and police officers and civil servants, were no better than our former elected parliamentarians the military junta holds in such deep contempt.

But why kill the draft charter now? Some NRC members blamed the decision on the crisis panel, which they said would lead to more conflict because it was strongly opposed by both the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties, and condemned by pro-democracy groups as a means to enable the junta to stay on in power.

Others said it would better if the proposed constitution was dumped by the NRC, instead of being rejected at the referendum because of the likelihood the public, aroused by the political parties, would oppose it.

But is there any guarantee the same crisis panel, in some form or other, will not be inserted in the new draft charter to be written by a new 21-member constitution drafting committee to be handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order?

And the new charter will have to go through the referendum process anyway.

"Writing with the hand, erasing with foot," as the Thai saying goes, may sound ridiculous to those who think within the box. But those who think outside the box may have a different opinion.

With or without the draft charter, the NCPO is still around, still standing over us. But with the draft charter shot down the NCPO will stay on longer – for at least an extra six months or until whenever the drafting process is completed. And if the new draft sails through the referendum, we can expect a general election roughly 20 months from now. This will be a long and painful wait for our unemployed politicians. Many may even have to get a job.

But for now, it is clear the NCPO will be with us for another 20 months – for starters. And who knows what will be included in the new charter by the time it's finished.

Veera Prateepchaikul

Former Editor

Former Bangkok Post Editor, political commentator and a regular columnist at Post Publishing.

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