House meeting on organic bill collapses

House meeting on organic bill collapses

A joint meeting of MPs and senators on an organic bill governing the elections of MPs collapsed on Wednesday due to a lack of quorum, increasing the chance of the draft law's 180-day deadline expiring before it is endorsed.

Lawmakers are required to finish deliberating the bill by Aug 15 before forwarding it to the Election Commission (EC). Wednesday was supposed to be the last meeting on the bill.

But Preeda Boonplueng, leader of the Thai Teachers for People Party, said micro parties would ask Parliament President Chuan Leekpai to call a special meeting this weekend to continue the deliberation process.

New Palang Dharma Party (NPDP) leader Ravee Maschamadol said the battle over how to calculate the number of party-list seats was not over, and the small parties would be ready for the upcoming rounds.

The lack of quorum was a deliberate move to derail the bill's passage after the use of the number 500 was adopted to calculate party-list seats in the second reading last month.

If the deadline passes without the bill being endorsed, it will be dropped and the original version is likely to be adopted.

That version proposed the use of 100 as the calculation method, as favoured by large parties including the Pheu Thai Party. Small parties prefer the use of 500.

The figure 100 derives from the total number of party-list MPs while 500 would include all of the constituency MPs.

Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said the use of 500 is in violation of the charter and the executive branch has interfered in the deliberation process.

He said the party would use all means possible to accomplish its bid to derail the bill's passage.

Senator Seree Suwanphanont said even if another meeting is called to further deliberate the bill, there is no guarantee it would clear parliament by the deadline considering how hard the MPs have been trying to delay it.

Jade Donavanik, a former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee, agreed with Mr Seree's views.

Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, a member of the Seri Ruam Thai Party and a former poll member, said the meeting can still be scheduled but if the coalition parties cannot reach a conclusion, it would not end well.

"They want the deadline to pass and the revised draft to be dropped. No such meeting would be fruitful. It would only further damage the image of the House," he said.

He said if the original draft were to be reinstated, the matter would still be forwarded to the Constitutional Court for review.

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