iLaw draft faces major hurdles

iLaw draft faces major hurdles

Protesters to gather ahead of 1st readings

Protesters show the three-finger salute atop Democracy Monument after wrapping it with a banner during a rally for reform on Saturday evening. (Reuters Photo)
Protesters show the three-finger salute atop Democracy Monument after wrapping it with a banner during a rally for reform on Saturday evening. (Reuters Photo)

The draft law to amend the charter proposed by Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) is the least of likely of seven draft proposals to make it through parliament as it is the most contentious, a source in the House revealed on Sunday.

Also, some senators may not turn up for Tuesday's first-reading vote on the seven drafts as they fear there could be clashes between anti-government protesters and pro-government supporters who both plan to converge outside parliament during the session.

The source added that coalition members are likely to vote in principle for charter amendment, backing the drafts proposed by the government and the opposition parties.

The drafts by the two camps are largely similar in principle and substance.

Both camps have agreed on fixing Section 256 of the charter to allow for the setting up of a charter drafting assembly.

However, debate on the iLaw version is poised to split the lawmakers. One side is expected to favour hearing iLaw's representatives answer queries over its proposal before proceeding to vote in the first reading.

The other lawmakers, however, may refrain from casting their first reading votes for the iLaw draft, deeming it "problematic" in many areas including its proposed abolition of the independent agencies.

Ahead of this week's debate, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, a core element of the anti-government movement, yesterday posted on its Facebook page a plan to hold a rally outside parliament from 3pm on Tuesday and remain there until the iLaw draft is approved in principle.

On Saturday, Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpattarasaksa, one of the key figures behind the protest movement, took to the stage at an event at Phan Fa intersection and told the assembled crowd that he believed the iLaw draft was most likely to bring about positive changes in Thailand and that protesters would be closely monitoring the deliberation of the draft by the lawmakers.

Free Youth, another anti-government group, also used its Facebook page to hail the iLaw draft for finally having made its way to parliament after a delay of over a month.

The group joined Mr Boonpattarasaksa in urging their supporters to gather outside parliament to observe the debate.

Move Forward Party list MP Teerajchai Phunthumas said he saw no reason why the iLaw draft, which was backed by 100,000 signatures, should not pass its first reading and expressed concern that if it was voted down at this early juncture that would only fuel the current political conflict.

His party's MPs would be working to ensure enough backing for the draft to move into the second round, he added.

Meanwhile, chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai MP Sutin Klungsang said his party will call a meeting on Monday to decide whether or not its MPs should vote for or against each of the drafts.

He said that unless iLaw's proposals proved to be politically unfeasible, parliament should opt to give it further scrutiny in a second reading.

Palang Pracharath Party list-MP Paiboon Nititawan, however, expressed doubts about the expected content of the iLaw draft.

He said the document proposes changes forbidden under the current charter, in particular Section 255 which governs changes to Chapter I (General Provisions) and Chapter II (The King).

Section 255 says that any amendment to the constitution which does not specifically maintain the King as the head of state is strictly prohibited.

Senator Wanchai Sornsiri also passed comment on tomorrow's debate and vote, saying that although there seem to be no major hindrances to amending the charter, it is likely that not all the drafts will be passed.

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