Charter bill exclusion 'by the book'

Charter bill exclusion 'by the book'

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai
Parliament president Chuan Leekpai

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai on Monday defended his decision to exclude a charter amendment draft seeking to revise Section 256 from the June 23-24 parliamentary agenda.

The draft -- one of 14 bills submitted to parliament for a first reading -- was sponsored by the main opposition Pheu Thai Party. It sought to amend Section 256 paving the way for the setting up of a charter drafting assembly (CDA).

Mr Chuan said he always checked with parliamentary rules and related laws when deciding which items would be admitted for scrutiny and would consult relevant committees for recommendations if he had concerns or questions.

He insisted that he did everything by the book which upset some MPs. However, Mr Chuan said he had not yet ruled if the draft in question would be considered dropped.

"No one intervened or meddled with it. Some motions such as the oath-taking were opposed by the government, but I put them on the House agenda because the Constitutional Court didn't make a ruling, only issued an opinion," he said.

The charter amendment draft on Section 256 was taken off the agenda because the Constitutional Court had ruled that an amendment to this section would involve replacing the charter, in which case a referendum before and after the rewrite would be required.

Following Mr Chuan's decision, only 13 charter amendment motions would be up for the two-day joint sitting of MPs and senators.

Of the 13, one was proposed by the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), four by the Pheu Thai Party and the remaining eight by the three coalition partners -- the Democrat, Bhumjaithai and Chartthaipattana parties.

Meanwhile, Senate whip spokesman Kamnoon Sitthisamarn said yesterday he disagreed with a charter proposal targeting Section 144 and Section 185 out of concerns that the revision would weaken mechanisms to tackle graft and malfeasance.

The proposal was submitted by the PPRP, which said Section 144 would be amended to ensure additional flexibility in the budgetary system while Section 185 would be improved to allow MPs to follow up on the government's efforts in solving social problems.

The senator said he also disagreed with the charter proposals calling for the two-ballot election system to be restored as this would give a political edge to large political parties.

However, he said he believed that the bid to amend Sections 144 and 185, sought by the PPRP, the three coalition parties and the Pheu Thai Party, would sail through parliament.

Mr Kamnoon also expressed support for their move to strip the Senate's power from taking part in the selection of a prime minister but doubted it would muster enough support.

Democrat leader Jurin Laksanawisit said yesterday the party would examine the contents of the drafts before it decided whether to vote for them.

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