Ballot bills face choppy seas, sabotage risk

Ballot bills face choppy seas, sabotage risk

Sathit calls on parties to respect process

Members of the parliament gather to consider bills on the election of House representatives last month. (Parliament photo)
Members of the parliament gather to consider bills on the election of House representatives last month. (Parliament photo)

Deputy Democrat Party leader Sathit Pitutecha on Tuesday urged all parties to respect the amendment process after Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew's claim that a plan was afoot to shoot down the two organic laws to switch back to the one-ballot system.

Mr Sathit, who chairs the parliamentary committee scrutinising the amendment bills, said the two drafts were instrumental to future elections, and if they were rejected in the third and final reading it would lead to a stalemate because the revised charter required the use of two ballots.

The two ballots are for electing a constituency MP and a political party separately. To bring back the one-ballot system, used in the previous general elections in 2014, the constitution must first be amended.

"Don't shoot down the drafts. Let the process run its course. The bills should be promulgated and become a tool to move the country forward," Mr Sathit said.

He was responding to reporters' questions regarding Dr Cholnan's claim that manoeuvring was in motion to shoot down the bills seeking to amend the Election of MPs Act and Political Parties Act. Dr Cholnan, however, refused to confirm whether what he heard was true.

The two bills sailed through the first reading.

Mr Sathit said the amendment process had come a long way. He urged committee members with opposing views to present their arguments before parliament.

Anan Amnuayphol, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Kamphaeng Phet, rejected Dr Cholnan's claim and insisted the vetting process was well underway.

Mr Anan, also deputy chairman of the vetting committee, said the government had no hidden motive and expected the vetting committee to do its job and adhere to the principles of the amendment bills that passed the first reading. He said they contained no controversial or problematic content and the senators, who were handpicked by the military regime, were not opposed to the changes.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said he saw no credible defence for shooting down the two organic laws as a way to force a charter amendment to bring back the one-ballot system.

The government's legal expert declined to say if an executive decree could be issued instead.

According to Mr Wissanu the Council of State, the government's legal adviser, had ruled several years ago that an executive decree could not be issued in place of an organic law, which was considered a higher law.

When asked about possible solutions in case the amendment drafts are rejected, Mr Wissanu said he would rather not speculate.

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