PM denies new panel picks made

PM denies new panel picks made

Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun (left) and legal expert Meechai Ruchupan are among those mentioned as likely new constitution writers, but the government including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha deny anyone has yet been approached. (Bangkok Post file photos)
Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun (left) and legal expert Meechai Ruchupan are among those mentioned as likely new constitution writers, but the government including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha deny anyone has yet been approached. (Bangkok Post file photos)

Speculation is rife over new players in the charter process following the National Reform Council (NRC)'s rejection of the draft, as a new 21-member charter drafting panel and 200-member reform assembly must now be established.

Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, legal expert Meechai Ruchupan, and former Constitutional Court president Jaroon Inthacharn have been named as potential candidates to head the new constitution drafting committee.

However, key government figures including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha insisted Wednesday no one has been approached for the role.

"That's not true. I haven't approached anyone. Where did all this speculation come from? That academic, this academic. I haven't talked to anyone," Gen Prayut said.

Under the amended interim charter, the charter drafters will be appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) while the reform body will be handpicked by the prime minister.

Gen Prayut would not confirm whether several contentious points from the rejected draft, including the crisis panel and the non-elected prime minister, would be included in the new charter. He said it would "depend on which direction the country is heading".   

He said he had decided on the composition of the new National Reform Steering Assembly, which will replace the dissolved NRC, but had not yet chosen its 200 members. It will include state officials from various ministries set to undergo reform.

"We need people who are familiar with the issues undergoing reform. It is the same with charter-writing. If we put non-legal specialists on the case, they won't stop arguing," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, meanwhile, declined to comment on speculation about whether Mr Anand or Mr Meechai would be on the new charter panel. He said panel selection should begin with setting the criteria and qualifications of members before considering candidates.

"I think the 21 members of the charter panel will be people that the public has confidence in. They have to do their best so the new draft charter will be passed in a referendum," he said.

Gen Prawit also said the new charter should have a provisional clause to solve problems that may arise during the transition period. "It's only my opinion," he said. "There might be a provisional clause, or maybe not," he added.

He said appointing the new charter drafters and reform members would be completed by the required deadline, and that the "6-4-6-4" formula of the new roadmap, which gives the NCPO another 20 months in power, fitted the tentative schedule of the interim charter. Fresh elections could come sooner, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam also rejected reports that he proposed Mr Meechai as head of the new charter writing committee, saying the NCPO chief would make his pick. He said the charter drafter appointments would be ready by Sept 22 when the NCPO and the cabinet are due to hold a meeting. He also rejected speculation he might resign from the cabinet to head the new drafting panel.


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