Dual-ballot amendments almost ready for parliament

Dual-ballot amendments almost ready for parliament

File photo: Bangkok Post
File photo: Bangkok Post

Amendments to two organic laws to accommodate dual-ballot elections are expected to be submitted to Parliament President Chuan Leekpai on May 24, according to Sathit Pitutecha, chairman of the panel scrutinising the two laws.

Running through the timeline on Tuesday, Mr Sathit said the draft amendments will be revised for the last time on Wednesday, when differences in the contents will be ironed out and lawmakers with differing opinions invited to explain their positions.  

On Thursday, the scrutiny committee will conduct a final check and proofread them. On May 24, the two draft amendments will be submitted to Mr Chuan, who will then pass them on to parliament for detailed deliberation. 

Media members were asked to attend a session to familiarise themselves with the amendments. 

The amendments to the organic laws, one on political parties and the other on the election of MPs, are contentious and have divided lawmakers. 

Mr Sathit, who is also deputy public health minister, said it is not clear when Mr Chuan will table the amendments for debate in parliament, but it is regarded as high-priority legislation.

He was confident they will clear both the House and Senate, since they have gone through many improvements. 

Scrutiny panel secretary Nikorn Chamnong said 16 lawmakers -- three senators, three government MPs and 10 opposition MPs -- will attend Wednesday's final session to settle their differences once and for all. 

If they fail to reach a consensus, they can save it for the debate in parliament later, he added. 

Some committee members are at loggerheads over how the primaries will be conducted to select party candidates in a general election, the separate numbers to be designated to constituency and party-list MP candidates and the minimum number of votes a party must win to get a list MP seat. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Sathit said the scrutiny committee has opted for the use of 100 to divide the number of party-list votes gained by all parties nationwide as proposed by major parties, instead of 500 as preferred by small parties.

Mr Sathit insisted the use of 500 would contravene the constitution, which has been modified to serve the dual-ballot method. He believed no one would seek a constitutional interpretation over the issue, which would only complicate and delay the amendments.

The number 100 comes from the total number of party-list MPs, while 500 refers to the total number of constituency and party-list MPs.

Sources said committee members who favour the use of 500 are set to challenge the calculation method approved by the committee when draft amendments to the law on the election of MPs go to parliament for deliberation.

Those who favour the use of 500 include a group of small coalition partners led by the New Palangdharma Party. Pheu Thai Party MP Somkid Chueakhong, who serves as the committee’s spokesman, said on Tuesday that the calculation method using 100 would put small parties at a disadvantage.

Mr Nikorn said he was free of concern about speculation the amendments would be shot down during either the second, third or final readings, and maintained the changes made by the panel will bring about positive political developments.

"I'm certain the two drafts will win majority votes in parliament," he said.

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