Anupong all for charter change, but sets conditions

Anupong all for charter change, but sets conditions

Around 200 supporters of constitutional amendment, mostly students, carry banners in the parliament compound as the group's representative reads out their proposals, which include a referendum to determine if a new charter should be written. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Around 200 supporters of constitutional amendment, mostly students, carry banners in the parliament compound as the group's representative reads out their proposals, which include a referendum to determine if a new charter should be written. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Though Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda on Friday added his voice to growing calls for charter amendments, he insisted the matter should be left up to the House committee studying constitutional changes.

He said since several sectors see the charter rewrite as a means of bringing peace, the issue cannot be avoided, but it should be handled by the existing mechanism -- the House committee.

This panel was appointed by the House of Representatives to study charter amendments and is chaired by former Democrat Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, who is also an adviser to the premier.

Gen Anupong said the committee should gather feedback from all sides, including students who recently held campus rallies demanding changes to the constitution.

The interior minister was responding to the latest campaign by the Committee Campaigning for a People's Constitution group which staged a 200-strong march yesterday from Kamphaengphet MRT station to parliament to submit proposals.

In the statement, the group called for a referendum to decide if a new charter should be written and urged that a new law be enacted to hold this referendum. The statement also said the current charter has to be amended first so the charter drafters can be chosen by the public and that proposed amendments should include clauses requiring that the election system in the 1997 charter is reinstated.

The group also wants a new general election to be held so the charter rewriting process can be initiated by the new government. However, they said, the first step would be to amend Section 256 of the current charter, so all amendments require the support of at least half of parliament. Section 256 only requires support of at least a third or 84 of all 250 senators, which is seen as a major hurdle to charter change.

Anusorn Unno, leader of the group, said their first priority was for the House to consider the proposed draft law on referendums. "We'll follow up on our demands especially the one on the drafting of a referendum law. We hope it will be on the agenda when parliament convenes," he said.

He said the march aimed to let the public know that their participation is necessary for a successful charter rewrite.

Mr Pirapan said the group's proposals will be considered by the committee.


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