iLaw chief makes case for 'people's charter'

iLaw chief makes case for 'people's charter'

House debate begins on seven competing drafts

Jon Ungphakorn, director of the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform, speaks during the first of a two-day parliamentary session to debate seven draft bills. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Jon Ungphakorn, director of the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform, speaks during the first of a two-day parliamentary session to debate seven draft bills. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Jon Ungphakorn, director of the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw), on Tuesday defended the rights group's charter amendment bill and urged parliament not to reject it.

He was speaking at the beginning of a two-day session to decide whether to accept seven charter amendment bills including one proposed by iLaw.

Addressing the House at the beginning of the session, Mr Jon said the iLaw bill belongs to the people as it had been backed by a petition of 98,824 subsequently verified signatures when it was handed to parliament president Chuan Leekpai.

Mr Jon said his group strongly believes there is a will in society for a new constitution that is more democratic than its forebearer.

"Under the current constitution, the people have no right to decide who will form government and who will become prime minister. There are other components within it which were not chosen by the people. So we have proposed a democratic amendment to get rid of dictatorship and open the way for a charter drafting assembly to be set up," Mr Jon said.

"The young generation will not wait for a drawn out return to democracy. Therefore, we hope parliamentarians attach importance to the people's draft and will not reject it in the first reading," Mr Jon said.

Yingcheep Atchanont, an iLaw representative who initiated the draft, spelt out its "five aspirations": "for the people to be able to elect a prime minister via the House of Representatives, for a transparent government which is subject to scrutiny, for the people to determine their own future, for a justice system ensuring fairness to all, and for a supreme law that is written by the people to guarantee basic rights."

However, Senator Gen Lertrat Rattanawanich slammed the bill, saying it seeks to thwart the national strategy and reform plans and breaches the current constitutional laws.

Gen Lertrat added that it also does not rule out later moves to alter provisions regarding the monarchy.

From across the floor, Paiboon Nititawan, a Palang Pracharath Party MP, claimed that iLaw has received funding from foreign-based groups and that it would be wrong to accept their bill.

On Nov 10, Mr Jon issued a statement on the group's Facebook page, saying iLaw has never and will never let any foreign financiers to interfere with the independence of the group.



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