Pay heed to protesters, Piyabutr says

Pay heed to protesters, Piyabutr says

Backs several key charter demands

Students from King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok attend a rally at their campus echoing the Free Youth group's and the Student Union of Thailand's calls for the government to dissolve parliament, stop using oppressive laws against political opponents and the amend the charter. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Students from King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok attend a rally at their campus echoing the Free Youth group's and the Student Union of Thailand's calls for the government to dissolve parliament, stop using oppressive laws against political opponents and the amend the charter. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a co-founder of the Progressive Movement, has proposed that some controversial constitutional provisions, particularly on the Senate, be amended to mollify anti-government protesters.

He said the House of Representatives should respond to demands by student activists to prevent political tensions boiling over by initiating charter changes.

The Free Youth group and the Student Union of Thailand, which staged an anti-government protest on July 18, demanded the government dissolve parliament, stop using oppressive laws against opponents and rewrite the constitution.

This prompted the pro-government the Archeewa Chuay Chart (Vocational Students Helping the Nation) group to stage a rally on Thursday near Democracy Monument in what was seen as a show of support for the government and to counter the anti-government movement. No incidents were reported.

Mr Piyabutr, who sits on the House committee studying constitutional amendments, said the panel should consider the student activists' demands, particularly the proposed charter amendments.

He also said that during this parliamentary session, MPs should table three separate bills to amend some charter provisions.

They include Section 279, which justifies and legitimises all orders, announcements, and actions of the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Others targeted are those associated with the Senate, particularly Section 269 which enabled the NCPO to appoint 250 senators, known as the transitional Senate, to serve for five years. These senators are allowed to join MPs in voting for a prime minister.

Mr Piyabutr said that since these sections are provisional clauses of the constitution, there will be no need to put them to a referendum.

He added when Section 269 is amended and the transitional Senate removed, new senators can sit under normal charter provisions.

"Keeping these 250 senators is like a thorn in the side of the constitution.... Many of them are capable people so should apply to be senators under a normal system," Mr Piyabutr said.

He also proposed that a bill be tabled to make the charter amendment process easier, and to provide for a new constitution drafting assembly.


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