NLA chief hints at more election delays

NLA chief hints at more election delays

Two election-related bills at risk of chop

Junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai (left) now says February, 2019, may be too early for the general election. (Post Today photo)
Junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai (left) now says February, 2019, may be too early for the general election. (Post Today photo)

National Legislative Assembly (NLA) president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai has hinted the organic bills on the election of MPs and selection of senators could be scrapped, which would delay the election beyond February next year.

The bills, despite having been passed by the NLA, could still be returned to the assembly and voted down, according to Mr Pornpetch.

He explained the bills have been sent to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and Election Commission (EC) to study.

The CDC wrote the drafts and would want to see if NLA scrutiny has preserved the principal elements of the law.

The EC, meanwhile, needs to find out if the amended bills now contain content which could prove to be problems in organising elections.

After examining the bills over the course of 10 days, the CDC and the EC will decide whether there are issues needing to be addressed.

If that is the case, a joint panel represented by the CDC, the EC and the NLA will be formed to iron out any contentious points.

Mr Pornpetch said the joint panel would have up to 15 days, which is not long, to wrap up its work.

"It would be good if no one disagreed with the bills," he said.

The joint panel's work would not affect the poll date since it falls within the time frame for enacting the organic laws.

However, the poll date would be pushed back if the two bills were returned to the NLA and voted down, Mr Pornpetch said.

Another factor which could possibly cause the election deadline in February next year to be missed is if lawmakers submit the organic laws to the Constitutional Court for an opinion over whether they comply with the charter.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said he did not believe any problems related to the organic bills would cause them to be scrapped. However, the ball will be back in the NLA's court if the joint committee disagrees with the bills.

The NLA can decide to scrap the bills, or insist on its version and petition the court to rule whether they contain anything against the charter.

Mr Pornpetch said any decision to return the bills to the NLA would hinge on whether the joint panel made major changes to them. If so, the NLA would need to look at them again, which opens an opportunity for them to be voted down if the assembly is not satisfied with changes wanted by the joint panel.

He said this was hypothetical and insisted he did not wish to be seen trying to mislead people into thinking he wanted the bills put to the court, or quashed.

He said there would be no reason to fear the organic bills being scrapped if the CDC did not object or raised little objection.

Earlier, the organic bill on the National Anti-Corruption Commission was forwarded to the Constitutional Court for scrutiny at the recommendation of the CDC.

The NLA took the CDC's advice as it felt the bill should be reviewed thoroughly.

The court will begin examining the bill on Monday. NLA member Thaweesak Suthakawathin will present the contents of the bill to the court on the NLA's behalf.

Mr Pornpetch said he expected a ruling from the court in a week.

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