CDC defends crisis superbody

Constitution writers have defended the new body to be set up under the new charter, saying it is intended to break a deadlock, not to prolong the junta's power.

They unveiled details of the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission on Wednesday. 

Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a spokesman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, said while the provision had been carefully deliberated, it was not set in stone.

"As long as the constitution draft is not officially sent to the National Reform Council, we can revise anything so long as it doesn't compromise key principles," he said.

Asked whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha could become a commissioner, Mr Kamnoon said it would depend on provisional clauses yet to be reviewed.

"In any case, we intend for the members to come from the bodies after the election. But Gen Prayut can join it," he said.

The charter aims to address the conflicts dated back 10 years ago. "Even though we don't see them now, we're aware they still exist. They are only suppressed by a special power," he said.

"We don't want to see the likes of the situations before May 22, 2014. This is our innovation to nurture transitional democracy — elections, a government from the House and mechanisms to steer or push reforms, as well as measures to stop violence when a government or other constitutional organs cannot function," Mr Kamnoon said.

The people, however, will have the final say in a referendum whether to endorse it, he added.

"In any case, the commission will function for five years. It cannot be extended unless through a referendum."

The CDC created an uproar on Aug 12 when it unveiled details of the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission based on a cabinet proposal.

The commission will have power to overrule or stop the executive and legislative branches of government during crises.

They can issue orders, which will be deemed final. 

It comprises 23 members. Of the total, 11 are ex officio members: chiefs of the army, navy, air force, police and armed forces, prime minister, parliament speaker and senator speaker.

Another three are chosen by their peers: a former prime minister, an ex-parliament speaker, and a former Supreme Court chairman.

The remaining 11 are elected by Parliament.

The 22 members then choose another person to be their chairman.

Critics say the structure is a state within state, a new sovereign to control the sovereignty of people and a bureaucratic state.

Supporters argue it would be a way out to break a political impasse peacefully and allow the country to move forward.

Both sides agree it will eliminate the need for a coup since the mechanism is made constitutional.

About the author

Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Senior reporter covering politics