Lawmakers to offer feedback on charter

Lawmakers to offer feedback on charter

Views sought on referendum process

MPs and senators attend a joint parliamentary meeting on Aug 22. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
MPs and senators attend a joint parliamentary meeting on Aug 22. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

MPs and senators will be sought for their opinions on how a referendum on a charter amendment should be held after the parliament session reconvenes on Dec 12, according to a referendum hearing sub-panel.

Nikorn Chamnong, head of the sub-panel, said on Monday he is sending a letter to House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai after parliament reopens on Dec 12 about a referendum questionnaire to be answered by MPs and senators.

The sub-panel is reportedly asking the MPs to return their answers to the questionnaire by Dec 14 and the senators to return theirs by Dec 20.

The lawmakers' input will be incorporated into referendum-related opinions the sub-panel has gathered from professional and social groups.

The questionnaire to be put to the lawmakers will contain several questions, such as whether they agree with rewriting a new charter or a referendum being organised before a charter amendment is underway.

Also, the lawmakers will be asked if passing a referendum should require the support of at least one-third of senators.

Mr Nikorn said an important question is whether members of the charter rewriting body should be wholly or partially elected.

The lawmakers' feedback and opinions from other groups will be forwarded to the main referendum-design committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Phumtham Wechayachai by the end of the month before the referendum findings are submitted for consideration by the cabinet.

Mr Nikorn said he was also looking to tackle what he viewed as the problematic "double majority" requirements where over 50% of eligible citizens must have voted in the referendum and that a majority of those who cast votes must approve it.

He said this would be hard to achieve, and he suggested that the simple majority rule applies only to the turn-out requirement.

However, Mr Nikorn said the double-majority issue was being studied in detail.

Meanwhile, the House sub-committee on elections headed by Move Forward Party list-MP Parit Wacharasindhu invited experts and academics to a forum where they aired their views on the proposed composition of the charter rewriting assembly.

Pongthep Thepkanchana, former Pheu Thai Party chief strategist and a former charter writer, said he backed experts being offered seats in the assembly to forge a constructive exchange of ideas and experiences.

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, director of the Law Center at Thammasat University, said the charter redrafting assembly members should come from direct election. However, he stressed that key considerations should be given as to whether the election of charter rewriters should emulate the general election. The content of the new charter should be made more concise, he added.

Earlier, the Election Commission (EC) said the referendum is estimated to cost at least 3 billion baht, up from 2.7 billion baht spent on the previous referendum in which the majority of voters approved the current charter. The EC attributes the steeper cost to more voters, new legal regulations, and inflation.

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