Wissanu says no S44 against Pheu Thai

Wissanu says no S44 against Pheu Thai

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has insisted the government will not exercise Section 44 of the interim charter to dissolve the Pheu Thai Party even though the law allows it to do so.

He was referring to the controversy over 17 Pheu Thai politicians who wrote on their Facebook pages that they will reject the draft charter in the Aug 7 referendum.

Speaking at Government House on Friday, Mr Wissanu said there was no reason as yet to invoke Section 44 to break up Pheu Thai.

Mr Wissanu's comments came after Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn warned the 17 Pheu Thai politicians, saying their actions could result in the dissolution of the party as it could violate the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) order which bans political activities.

Asked whether the government has the authority to dissolve the party as Mr Somchai claimed, Mr Wissanu replied that Section 44 authorises the prime minister to fully exercise his power to deal with any issue provided there are reasonable grounds to do so.

Mr Wissanu said Mr Somchai was an election commissioner who is overseeing the referendum. Therefore, the warning was made to provide clarity for some politicians.

The deputy premier, however, declined to say if the Facebook posts are considered as inciting unrest ahead of the referendum.

However, he said that if the authorities viewed Pheu Thai politicians' messages as breaching the law, legal action could be taken against the politicians.

Meanwhile, Mr Somchai said the referendum rejection posts looked to be in line with the law. But if there was evidence they posted the messages on behalf of the party, the politicians run a heavy risk of violating the NCPO's order.

Amorn Wanitwiwat, spokesman for the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), said yesterday the expression of personal opinions on the charter referendum are acceptable under the referendum law as long as it is done in good faith, within one's own personal space.

However, he warned people not to persuade the public not to vote one way or the other in the referendum.

Mr Amorn also provided an update on the CDC's work, saying that charter writers were sent to provide information on the draft to university lecturers nationwide so they can help pass it on to the public.

He also hoped for a strong turnout in the referendum regardless of the result.

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