Opposition charter bills hit snag

Opposition charter bills hit snag

Four constitution-amendment motions filed by opposition parties will likely hit a snag after a Palang Pracharath MP blocked them.

Paiboon Nititawan, a deputy leader and list MP of the Palang Pracharath Party, submitted a letter to parliament president Chuan Leekpai on Monday.

In the letter, he claimed the four bills might be unconstitutional since some of the MPs who signed to support them also endorsed another charter-amendment bill earlier filed by the opposition on Aug 17. The previous bill involves the setup of a constitution drafting council and was already put on the meeting agenda.

Mr Paiboon cited the Constitutional Court already ruled against such redundancies in its No.5/2563 order in late January.

Mr Chuan said on Monday initially some problems had been found in three of the four motions of the opposition but they were not related to the point raised by Mr Paiboon.

“The signatures of some MPs who signed the bills are not consistent [with what were in their records]. A probe will be done to check whether some had signed on behalf of others,” he said.

On Mr Paiboon’s observation, Mr Chuan confirmed the four bills were not redundant.

“Although the bills aim to amend the constitution, the content is not the same as in the previous two bills. Therefore, an MP may sign all of them and their support won’t be regarded as redundant,” he said.

Mr Chuan explained the court order raised by Mr Paiboon involved MPs signing up to submit a petition to the court. “But in this case, it is a submission of bills,” he said.

Asked whether the four bills would be put on hold if a number of MPs sign to send the case to the Constitution Court, Mr Chuan said the bills had yet to be put on the agenda. 

To date, seven bills on constitution amendments were filed.

Of them, two are on the setup of a constitution drafting council submitted by Pheu Thai and coalition parties. They were already on the meeting agenda to be deliberated late this month.

The remaining five aim to amend the charter by section so they can take effect more quickly. They involve revoking the power of senators to vote on a prime minister, removing a blanket and indefinite amnesty for the 2014 coupmakers, allowing MPs to join senators in considering and vetoing laws on national reforms and reinstating the electoral system stipulated in the 1997 charter.

One of the five bills was submitted by Move Forward Party but some MPs later withdrawn their support for it. The other four were submitted by Pheu Thai last week.

A delay to the bills will likely bode ill for peace as pressure is mounting outside Parliament for change. Youth rallies are demanding a rewrite of the constitution and the roles of junta-appointed senators are among the issue they want to see changed as proposed by the opposition.

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