The ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) will submit a charter amendment bill that includes a key proposal to leave the coup-appointed Senate untouched while three other coalition parties will initiate a separate bill primarily aimed at curbing the Senate’s power.
PPRP deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan said the bill seeks section-by-section charter amendments and it will be tabled when parliament convenes during its new session on Wednesday.
He expects parliament to pass the bill in the third reading in late July, adding there would be no need to hold a referendum for the proposed changes.
Charter provisions targeted for change are those associated with the voting system, Mr Paiboon said. The bill seeks to shift the process from the current use of a single ballot for constituency and party-list MPs to two separate ballots, he added.
Critics said the single-ballot system has made it difficult for political parties to grab a parliamentary majority and form a single-party government.
The bill also seeks to amend Section 29 of the constitution to boost public access to the kingdom’s justice system by requiring the state to appoint lawyers to represent communities in conflict with state agencies in court.
If the bill is approved, Section 144 will be revised to ensure additional flexibility in the budgetary system while Section 185 will be amended to allow MPs to follow up on the government’s efforts in solving social problems.
The PPRP is also expected to seek changes to Section 270 to enable MPs to push for national reforms and national strategies.
Currently, only senators have such a role.
“We believe the amendments proposed by the PPRP will be more practical and respond to the needs of the people,” Mr Paiboon said. “The process will take a short time and no money will be needed to hold a referendum.”
He also said the party will not seek changes to decrease the Senate’s power, noting that such a move may lead to a conflict and will not be successful.
However, Chinnaworn Bunyakiat, deputy chief government whip and Democrat Party MP, said the Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chartthaipattana parties will table a separate charter amendment bill targeting Sections 256 and 272.
The primary target is Section 256, which currently says a charter amendment requires the support of at least one-third of all 250 senators, or 84, in the first and third reading of a charter amendment bill, Mr Chinnaworn said.
The other target is Section 272, which allows the Senate to join MPs in the selection of a prime minister, he added.
Other proposed changes include the use of two-ballot voting — similar to that of the PPRP, boosting public rights and liberties, scrutinising state power and the decentralisation of power, Mr Chinnaworn said.
The two bills are expected to be tabled on Wednesday, Mr Chinnaworn said.