King's regent provision to go

King's regent provision to go

Change affects Privy Council chairman

An change to the constitution requested by His Majesty the King concerns the chief of the Privy Council, currently Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, seen above with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at his birthday party last August. (Bangkok Post file photo)
An change to the constitution requested by His Majesty the King concerns the chief of the Privy Council, currently Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, seen above with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at his birthday party last August. (Bangkok Post file photo)

A provision allowing the Privy Council president to serve as regent pro tempore under the constitution is to be dropped, says Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan.

The move is in line with proposed changes to the charter sought by the government, Mr Meechai said.

Mr Meechai is one of 10 experts who will join a special committee to amend the new charter after the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passes an interim charter amendment tomorrow which is needed for the changes to the new charter to go ahead.

The charter, approved by a public referendum last year, is pending royal endorsement.

The King has sought a few changes related to his authority but the interim charter has to be amended first.

The CDC chairman said Wednesday the government's proposed amendments to the new charter's chapter on the monarchy will affect provisions relating to the appointment of a regent pro tempore.

Section 18 of the new constitution allows the Privy Council president to serve as regent pro tempore automatically in the event the King does not appoint a regent.

But Mr Meechai noted that when the draft constitution's chapter on the monarchy is amended, the provision will likely be dropped.

The interim charter stipulates a 90-day deadline for the new charter to receive royal endorsement which expires on Feb 6. If there is no royal endorsement by the deadline, the new charter will be considered dropped.

The NLA will consider the proposed amendment to the interim charter tomorrow, in three straight readings.

The key changes in the interim charter will cover the issue of a regent's appointment.

Under the changes, the regent's appointment will depend on the King's judgement.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed on Tuesday the government has decided to amend the interim constitution to pave the way for changes to the new constitution's provisions on the monarchy as advised by His Majesty the King.

The Privy Council had forwarded the new constitution, which was submitted by the government, to the King for royal endorsement.

The King advised there were three to four provisions that need to be amended to fit in with the monarch's authority, Gen Prayut said.

He confirmed the changes have nothing to do with rights and liberties of the public.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, overseeing legal affairs, said the committee will draw up the amendments to the provisions on the monarchy in line with His Majesty's advice.

Mr Wissanu said the panel would comprise eight to 10 members well versed on the issue.

He said members tipped to sit on the committee are himself, Mr Meechai, CDC deputy chairman Apichart Sukhagganond, CDC member Atchaporn Charuchinda, NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, former CDC chairman Borwornsak Uwanno, former cabinet secretary-general Ampon Kitti-ampon, Supreme Court president Veerapol Tungsuwan, Attorney-General Pongniwat Yuthaphanboriphan, and Council of State secretary-general Distat Hotrakitya.

Asked whether other sections would also be amended, Mr Wissanu said some related provisions in other chapters might have to be altered, but the provisions on the rights and liberties of the people, state policy, the cabinet, courts, elections, political parties, MPs and senators would not be touched.

The provisions on the monarchy to be amended might have received no attention during the referendum process as they were simply copied from previous constitutions.

However, the kingdom had gone through many changes and they needed to be amended to meet the new conditions, Mr Wissanu said.

Mr Wissanu said the new charter must be amended and returned to His Majesty the King in 30 days, and the King would have 90 days to consider whether to endorse it.

After the new charter is royally endorsed and comes into force, the CDC would complete the draft organic laws within 240 days, before sending them to the NLA for deliberation.

Organic laws will then be submitted for royal endorsement and a general election will then be called in 150 days, Mr Wissanu said.

Mr Wissanu said he could not say whether the election would be held late this year.

Even the prime minister would say only that the roadmap was still on course, he added.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, secretary to the NLA whip, confirmed on Wednesday that the NLA will consider and pass the government's interim charter amendment bill during Friday's meeting.

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