A charter rewrite will be completed within four years as a number of academics and interest groups are being approached to sit on a panel set up to study the design of a referendum to be held on amending the charter, Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said on Tuesday.
Mr Phumtham, who also serves as commerce minister, is in charge of appointing the panel. His appointment was approved by the cabinet at its first meeting last Wednesday.
Rewriting the charter is one of the priority issues the Pheu Thai-led government has outlined.
"I am approaching people from various sectors, including legal experts. This government wants more people to take part [in the charter rewrite process] and for the referendum to be held as quickly as possible," Mr Phumtham said.
"The government will push for a charter rewrite and will find ways to ensure the charter rewrite is acceptable to all sides. We also stick to the principle that chapters one and two of the constitution will be left untouched," Mr Phumtham said.
Chapter 1 contains sections defining Thailand as a single, indivisible kingdom with a democratic regime and the King as the head of state. Chapter 2 contains sections pertaining to the royal prerogatives.
"We will hold talks with MPs and senators as well as civic organisations. However, the charter rewrite must be completed within four years. It is an urgent issue, and the government wants it to materialise quickly," he said.
Parit Wacharasindhu, a list-MP of the opposition Move Forward Party, previously said the government's move to set up a referendum study panel is just an attempt to buy time.
He pointed to a pledge made by the ruling Pheu Thai Party on Aug 2 to hold a referendum on amending the charter, when it added that the public would be involved in the setting up of the charter-redrafting assembly.
However, the government appeared to be backsliding on its commitment to a charter rewrite, Mr Parit said.
The MP said the study panel will be formed by a prime ministerial order, not by a cabinet resolution, which demands stronger legal compliance.
Deputy House Speaker Pichet Chuamuangphan said on Tuesday the charter rewrite process cannot be rushed.
He said if people support it, an assembly will be set up.