Thanathorn fears charter 'hijacking'

Thanathorn fears charter 'hijacking'

parties divided over rewrite push

Future Forward Party (FFP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has voiced caution about some government parties joining the charter amendment effort, saying it could prove counterproductive to the opposition's goal of rewriting the entire constitution.

Mr Thanathorn said he feared the government's participation could result in the process being "hijacked".

So far, the Democrat Party, a government coalition partner, has shown interest in amending the charter, which was its election campaign promise.

Other major coalition parties are lukewarm to the amendment idea. The Bhumjaithai Party has said now is not the time to correct the constitution while the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has kept mum over the issue.

Mr Thanathorn said yesterday he was worried that if any coalition party took part in the charter amendment, it might advocate only limited changes which run counter to the opposition's stand to rectify the entire document.

The FFP leader said the opposition is moving to set up a constitution drafting panel whose members are elected to reflect the will of the people. "This is where we stand on the matter," he said. "Are the government members joining the charter rewriting effort for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon?" Mr Thananthorn said. He added the sweeping constitutional changes needed should aim to return the power to run the country to the people, as opposed to centralising it in the hands of the few.

The government must explain what it hopes to achieve from amending the charter or whether it envisages a partial amendment, he said.

Key government figures in the PPRP argue a proposed charter change must first be put to a referendum since the current constitution was approved at a referendum.

Mr Thanathorn added he would not mind if the opposition had its way in rewriting the charter but the FFP ended up winning fewer MPs.

Mr Thanathorn himself is embroiled in legal wrangling. He held shares in V-Luck Media Co, a media firm, when he registered as an MP candidate in early February, an alleged violation of Section 98 (3) of the charter, which prohibits shareholders of media firms from being MPs.

The Election Commission (EC) has also been asked to investigate whether Mr Thanathorn broke the law by giving a loan worth over 100 million baht to his own party.

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