Plans afoot for totally new charter

Plans afoot for totally new charter

The House committee studying constitutional amendments has opened up to the idea of a council being formed to draw up a new constitution, saying it is prepared to propose it as part of charter amendments.

Pirapan Saliratha­vibhaga, chair of the House panel, said the committee favours a process which will allow the public more say and pave the way for national and legal reforms. He said the committee has discussed the possibility of a new charter being drafted entirely and agreed that if possible it will include a fresh chapter on the setup of a constitutional drafting council in the charter amendment.

"The committee members agree that if a new charter has to be drafted, a charter drafting panel may be set up to do this task, the committee will consider including a chapter about charter drafting," said Mr Pirapan, also the prime minister's adviser.

However, he said the charter amendment process will have to start with amending Section 256 to facilitate attempts at changes.

Under this section, a constitutional amendment requires the support of at least one-third of all 250 senators, or 84 of them. This requirement is seen as a major hurdle for charter changes.

Bhokin Bhalakula, the panel's adviser, said the panel members from various political parties were asked to consider the idea of setting up a panel to write a new charter.

"We'll have an amended charter within five months and then the Constitution Drafting Assembly [CDA] will begin the drafting process that will take 390 days," he said.

When asked about the possible make-up of the proposed CDA, Mr Bhokin said the members of the proposed body will be selected from applicants across the country, similar to the 1991 CDA.

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

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.

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