Anutin backs charter reform
Bhumjaithai leader accepts key demand of student protesters
Responding to political activists' calls for the dissolution of the House, the leader of the Bhumjaithai Party on Saturday said such a move would be pointless without prior constitutional amendment.
Speaking at the party's annual meeting, Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of this second-largest coalition partner, said the party is willing to listen to the voices of civil society. It is ready to amend the charter, but it should be done under a political framework.
"The party is ready for constitutional amendments, but it should be done under the law. A constitution amendment assembly should be set up to draft a new one, together with a referendum procedure to approve it," said the leader of the coalition party with 61 MPs.
"The dissolution of parliament would be the next step as part of a process under the democratic system. I disagree with an immediate dissolution without an amendment first because there is no change to the result," he said.
He said that he realises his party must listen carefully to calls from civil society so violence can be prevented and the government can make the right decisions.
Mr Anutin, a deputy prime minister and the public health minister, warned any protest movement should take into account the need for precautions against the spread of Covid-19 such as sanitary practices for washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.
As the Covid-19 situation has improved to the point where there have been no cases of domestic transmission for 61 days, political rallies have begun in many places around the country, mainly led by students.
They are calling for House dissolution, the government to respect people's rights and freedom and charter amendment.
The House of Representatives has set up a committee to address their concerns.
The Bhumjaithai's Si Sa Ket-based representative Siripong Angkasakulkiat, who is a member of the committee, said the group would attend the political events as much as possible and would submit the protesters' demands to related ministries to consider whether any could be acted on immediately.
However, some would be better off pursued through political avenues such as parliament.
He said the party has not yet considered the call for the dissolution of parliament as a charter amendment should be pursued first. Personally, he said he believed the method by which the prime minister is selected should be amended to make it more proper.
The party organised Saturday's annual general assembly to select a new board. Participants backed Mr Anutin to retain the role of party leader, followed by Saksayam Chidchob as secretary-general and Supachai Jaisamut as registrar.
Mr Anutin expressed his appreciation for members' support, saying the party is important to the government due to its significant number of members in parliament, which enabled the formation of the coalition government.
Regarding the cabinet reshuffle, he said the party will not change any minister in its quota as all have worked well.