Ex-permanent secretaries to pick senators
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Ex-permanent secretaries to pick senators

PATTAYA — All 123 appointed senators will be handpicked by four screening committees dominated by retired permanent secretaries and NGOs, according to the latest revision of the constitution draft.

In the previous revision, some of the appointed senators will elect among themselves or come from drawing by their peers.

In the latest revision unveiled on Saturday, the screening committees mainly comprise former permanent secretaries (17), representatives from private organisations or NGOs (18). The rest come from courts and other organisations.

The concept was different from the scrapped 2007 charter where judges dominated in the selection of senators and constitutional organs or indepedent committees.

This was the first time the composition of the screening committees was unveiled. In previous revisions, the charter draft simply stated details of the committees will be put in organic laws to be issued later.

The charter draft stipulates 200 senators, 123 of whom are appointed. The remaining 77 are elected, one from each province and Bangkok. 

Gen Lertrat Ratanavanich, a spokesperson for the Constitution Drafting Committee, said on Saturday after the CDC meeting in Pattaya the appointed senators were to be divided into four groups.

The first group consists of 10 — former permanent secretaries (5) and former defence permanent secretaries, supreme commanders and armed forces commanders (5).

This group of senators will be picked by a 5-member committee made up of a Constitutional Court justice, two Supreme Court judges and two Supreme Administrative Court justices. All of them will be elected by the large assembly of their respective courts.

The second group of senators is made up of 15 representatives of legally registered professional groups.

They will be chosen by a screening panel with nine members randomly and electronically picked from a pool of former permanent secretaries for commerce (1), public health (1) and industry (1); former secretaries-general of the Council of State (1) and former secretaries-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (1). The remaining four screening members are the Bank of Thailand governor, secretary of the Securities and Exchange Commission and one rector each from state and private universities selected by the Council of University Presidents of Thailand.

The third group of senators consists of representatives of organisations on farming, labour, academics, communities and local organisations.

They will be chosen by a screening committee of 12 members electronically and randomly picked from the following groups: former permanent secretaries of the Agriculture Ministry (1), the Education Ministry (1), Labour Ministry (1), Interior Ministry (1) and ex-directors of the Community Organizations Development Institute (1).

The remaining seven are also randomly and electronically picked from representatives from labour-related private organisations (1), farm-related private bodies (1), experts on farming (1), labour (1), academic and education (1), communities (1) and local administration (1).

The last group of 68 appointed senators comprises experts in 22 fields such as politics, security, economy, races, religions, children and women, etc.

They will be chosen by a screening committee of 18 members randomly and electronically chosen from pools of former permanent secretaries of Defence Ministry (1), Justice Ministry (1), Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry (1), Social Development and Human Security Ministry (1), Culture Minsitry (1), Science and Technology Ministry (1), former secretaries general of the Office of the Civil Service Commission (1).

The remaining 11 members of the screening committee will be picked in the same way but from pools of representatives of private organisations on the economy; children and the youth; women; the handicapped and underprivileged; consumer protection; human rights; the environment; health and the elderly; religions; arts and culture; and independent professions.

All four screening committees will be given 30 days to choose the senators and submit their names to the Election Commission to be announced as senators.

In any case, it is not a given at this stage that Thailand will have the constitution in its current form. The writers are hammering out several points of concerns as suggested by the National Reform Council (NRC) and the cabinet.

After it is done, the final draft will be put to a yes-no vote by the NRC next month. If the NRC endorses it, it will be put to a public referendum. If not, the junta will appoint a new constitution drafting team to do the task in six months.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, the CDC and NRC will end their roles after the vote and will be dissolved, according to the amendments to the 2014 interim charter.

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