Activist urges halt to key vote

Activist urges halt to key vote

Prolific petitioner Srisuwan claims court ruling requires referendum

Activist Srisuwan Janya on Saturday threatened to ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission to take action against any parliamentarians who vote for a charter amendment bill in a third reading scheduled for next Wednesday.

The secretary-general of the Association for the Protection of the Thai Constitution said a Constitutional Court ruling last Thursday was clear and without need of any further interpretation.

However, Mr Srisuwan said the opposition parties and some government coalition parties had caused confusion by attempting to interpret the ruling in order to push for passage of the bill in the third reading, even though the court's ruling was legally binding on parliament, the cabinet, independent agencies and state agencies.

Therefore, any parliamentarians voting for the bill in next Wednesday's session will be in breach of the National Anti-Corruption Act and parliament's ethical code, according to Mr Srisuwan.

The court ruled on Thursday that parliament had the power to draw up a new charter but that the public must first decide in a referendum whether they wanted a new one.

The court said if those people decided they wanted a new charter and a draft was duly completed, another referendum must be held for the people to endorse it.

It was ruling on a petition submitted through parliament by Senator Somchai Swangkarn and Palang Pracharath Party MP Paiboon Nititawan. They asked it to clear up doubts over parliament's ability to pave the way for the creation of a drafting assembly to write a new charter.

Critics and supporters of the charter amendment process are locking horns over the court's ruling. Pheu Thai Party MP for Nan, Cholnan Srikaew, said yesterday the court's ruling had confirmed the power to amend the constitution had always been parliament's prerogative.

Dr Cholnan also lambasted Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who said on Friday that if the bill passed its third reading, someone could seek a further ruling by the court on its legality.

Asked by reporters if legislators should vote down the bill and go back to square one, Mr Wissanu said abstaining was another option.

Dr Cholnan said Mr Wissanu was trying to send a signal from the government for the charter amendment bill to be shot down.

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