The Move Forward Party (MFP) yesterday proposed a change in the criteria for a charter referendum, saying the current requirement allowed those who disagreed with the proposed rewrite to thwart its adoption easily.
MFP MP Parit Wacharasindhu said the existing requirement he termed "double majority" would mean that those who disagreed with charter amendments would simply stay home rather than take part in a referendum to vote against it.
He was referring to Section 13 of the Referendum Act, which requires that two specific conditions be met before the result of a referendum result can be considered binding. First, more than 50% of eligible voters must have participated in the vote, and the majority of those who cast votes must approve it.
"If people disagree with the questions [posed in the referendum], instead of voting against them, they can choose to stay home. If the participation requirement fails, the referendum is rejected," he said.
Mr Parit said the requirement of majority participation should be removed and noted that it did not apply in the previous charter referendums in 2007 and 2017.
However, if both participation and approval requirements are maintained, for a referendum to pass, the number of voters who participate and who vote in favour should exceed 25%.
He said if the government and the opposition co-proposed amendments to Section 13, it could be passed by parliament before the referendum study is completed.
Pheu Thai list-MP Chaturon Chaisang also expressed concern over the double majority requirement, posting on Facebook that if a bill was rejected in a referendum, it could lead to people concluding the public did not want any changes.
"We must cover all bases -- how many rounds of votes are needed, how the questions are phrased and if the Referendum Act should be amended first," he said, adding that he and other party MPs would submit a number of changes to the House of Representatives when parliament reopens.
Mr Chaturon, who recently oversaw a sub-committee tasked with gathering public opinion, also highlighted concerns raised during the session. For example, even if a bill received public endorsement, that did not guarantee its passage into Thai law.