Pheu Thai pushes for 2 charter edits

Pheu Thai pushes for 2 charter edits

Party seeks return to 2007 version

The main opposition Pheu Thai Party is working on two charter amendment drafts including one seeking to revise Section 256 to pave the way for a charter drafting assembly (CDA).

Deputy leader Yuttapong Charasathien said the party has not given up its bid for wholesale charter changes and for a new charter to be drawn up with public input. But, if the charter rewrite process is unable to take place, the party will press ahead with section-by-section amendments.

Targeted in the party's draft is Section 272 which deals with the military-appointed Senate's power to nominate and elect a prime minister, he said.

The section is undemocratic because the senators are not directly elected, but appointed by the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said the MP for Maha Sarakham.

He said another target is the electoral system and the party's draft pushes for the reinstatement of the election system endorsed in the 2007 charter in which voters cast two ballots in a general election -- one for 400 constituency MPs and the other for 100 party-list MPs.

"These are the party's principles for the charter amendment," Mr Yuttapong said.

He said the Pheu Thai Party commands more than 100 MPs, so it can submit a charter amendment motion without having to lobby other parties for support.

A charter amendment motion requires the support of at least 100 MPs.

"After the Covid-19 pandemic eases we'll call an internal meeting and then hold a meeting with opposition partners. We must proceed as quickly as we can," he said.

He also called on all sides to step up pressure on the government and the Senate to push through the referendum bill that remains stalled in parliament.

The bill is essential following the Constitutional Court's ruling that an amendment to Section 256 of the constitution would involve replacing the current charter, in which case a referendum before and after the charter is rewritten would be required.

The government-sponsored referendum bill passed its first reading in December last year and is an essential part of the charter amendment process.

The second reading took place on April 7-8. The debate was adjourned after the number of lawmakers attending was low apparently due to Covid-19 concerns.

The referendum bill is not expected to be examined until June, according to Mr Yuttapong. He said parliament is scheduled to convene on May 22 but on the agenda is the budget bill for the 2022 fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party deputy spokesman Chaichana Dejdecho insisted yesterday the party's charter amendment draft is in the best interest of the public.

He said the party plans to hold a referendum on the draft once it passes scrutiny in parliament. Last week the party unveiled its charter amendments covering six issues and its proposed changes to the electoral system and to the Senate's power.

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