Village and sub-district chiefs from across the country on Monday petitioned national reform panellists and constitutional drafters to cut a section of the draft constitution aimed at reforming local government.
Yongyos Kaewkiew, chairman of the Village Chiefs and Kamnans Association of Thailand, led about 100 local administrators in submitting their petition to National Reform Council chairman Thienchay Kiranandana and Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Borwornsak Uwanno at parliament.
Weerayut Chareonkul, director at Office of the House Speaker, received the letter on Mr Thienchay's and Borwornsak's behalf.
Mr Yongyos claimed Section 285 of the draft constitution would eliminate civil servants, including village and tambon chiefs, at the regional level and in local administrative bodies. He called on the draft to retain system of central, regional and local administration.
Village and tambon chiefs in Chiang Rai, Khon Khaen and Nakhon Sawan also submitted their protest to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha through their provincial governors.
Section 285 demands reform of local administration by introducing a law and facilitating a mechanism to create local administrative organisations within a year after the new constitution takes effect. It also calls for a committee responsible for outlining policies to ensure a decentralisation of power.
Many tambon chief and village heads said they fear the section would result in the dissolution of local administrative bodies (LAOs) and those working for regional administrations, including them, would lose their jobs. They believe the new constitution would prevent new elections of local councillors and administrators.
The protest came despite CDC member Preecha Watcharapai telling the local bureaucrats that regional administration would not be affected. He also tried to allay fears that LAOs would be dissolved, but admitted their structure would be reformed to improve efficiency.