Cabinet MPs out of charter study

Cabinet MPs out of charter study

Senators, experts to fill 12 vacant seats

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam

No cabinet ministers will take part in a study of the proposed constitutional amendment, said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

The deputy premier in charge of legal affairs said on Thursday the committee on the charter amendment study will comprise 49 members which will be divided into sections.

The government and opposition whips had originally decided there will be 49 members; 18 representing the coalition government, 19 from the opposition, and 12 cabinet ministers.

However, the inclusion of cabinet ministers was dropped because it was deemed they may not have enough time to attend the study committee meetings, according to Mr Wissanu.

The exclusion of ministers would leave 12 seats vacant, six of which are expected to be filled by senators, members of independent agencies, and the government's legal experts while the other six seats will be taken up by individuals decided upon by the government whip.

Mr Wissanu agreed senators should have a role to play on the committee as designing charter changes and approving them would be difficult without the Upper House's help.

The deputy prime minister reserved his comments on whether former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who also previously served as Democrat Party leader, was qualified to chair the study committee. He said the 49 panel members will vote on the chair from among candidates proposed by parties represented in parliament.

Apart from Mr Abhisit, the ruling Palang Pracharath Party was reportedly looking to nominate Deputy House Speaker Suchart Tancharoen for the chairman post.

Mr Suchart said on Thursday he would not mind being nominated by the party if there was no other qualified candidate for the job.

Meanwhile, Mr Wissanu said that ideally, the chair of the study panel should be someone with exceptional interpersonal skills who can work and coordinate with the 49 members. He indicated the chair should be a politician who is well-respected.

However, when the time comes to choose a chair for the committee responsible for the actual charter rewrite, the chairman selection criteria would be more particular. The head of a charter amendment panel must possess the insight and experience about the technicality of constitutional redrafting which could be useful when key decisions need to be made to break any amendment deadlocks.

"I don't think this [charter study] committee is going to make or break anything. It specialises primarily in studying the method of modifying the charter," Mr Wissanu said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said he had no objections to Mr Abhisit assuming the study panel chairmanship.


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