Critics of govt fret over rewrite hitches

Critics of govt fret over rewrite hitches

Government critics have voiced their concerns over legal complications that might hinder a charter rewrite if the Constitutional Court rules on the legality of the proposed amendments too late.

The concerns were raised at a discussion attended by Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, who is leader of the Srang Thai Party; Pokin Polakul, the party core leader; Pongthep Thepkanchana, chairman of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party's party development strategy committee; and Yingcheep Atchanont, representing the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) group.

A key question put to the participants was whether the amendments -- now contained in a draft bill which has passed a second reading scrutiny in parliament -- stands to be scrapped if the Constitutional Court issues its ruling after the bill clears its third and final reading between March 17-18.

The concerns shared by the discussion participants were that if the joint sitting of MPs and senators passed the bill in its third reading to allow the whole charter to be rewritten, it might contradict what the Constitutional Court rules later.

If after the third reading the court decides the charter can only be amended section by section, the move by parliament to change the entire charter would be derailed.

Mr Yingcheep said the post-third reading ruling by the court would portray the court as the reason for the charter rewrite delay.

He suggested the senators vote to sink the draft amendment bill in the third reading rather than let the process continue only to be scrapped later if and when the court rules against modifying the entire charter.

Mr Pongthep admitted a court ruling made after a third reading presented a concern and it would be best if the decision were to be made known sooner rather than later.

Mr Pokin said if the court ruled in favour of section-by-section amendment, it would effectively allow the government a free hand in pursuing the changes since this method represents the government's stand on the amendment issue.

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