'PM wants Meechai' to lead drafting
Prominent legal expert Meechai Ruchupan has been approached by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, assigned by the Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, to lead a new charter-drafting body that is expected to be formed by next week, according to a source at the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
If Mr Meechai agrees to accept the invitation to serve as chairman of the new 21-member charter-drafting committee, he will be allowed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to select a number of drafters whom he thinks will help ensure the process runs smoothly over six months, said the same source.
"The reason why Gen Prayut is interested in Mr Meechai is the fact that he used to be at the helm of legislative bodies, both as Senate chairman and chairman of a national legislative assembly," said the source.
"Gen Prayut thinks a person like Mr Meechai is needed to draft a new constitution amid conflicts because he can manage conflicts well and is likely to win acceptance by most drafters," said the source.
Aside from Mr Meechai, the source said, a number of former members of the now-defunct Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) were also on the NCPO's list of prospective candidates to be new constitution drafters.
They include Sujit Boonbongkarn, Kanjanarat Leewiroj, Banthoon Sethasiroj, Banjerd Singkhaneti and Preecha Watcharaphai.
Names of non-former CDC members on the list include former Thammast University rector Surapol Nitikraipoj and Likhit Theerawekhin, a political science academic, said the source.
Surachai Liangboonlertchai, the first deputy chairman of the NLA, meanwhile, dismissed media reports that he had been approached to join the new charter-drafting committee.
Qualified charter drafters not only have to have sound knowledge of the law, politics and public administration, but also direct experience in charter drafting and studying political problems and obstacles hindering the implementation of a constitution, Mr Surachai said.
Gen Prayut said he planned to next week complete his selection of new constitution drafters and he expected to sign off on the appointments before he leaves for a United Nations meeting on Sept 23.
Legal experts should take a leading role in the new charter-drafting committee to resolve problems that may arise, he said.
In past charter drafting, he said, problems had simply been identified but no actual processes had been created to resolve them.
The premier also called on politicians to stop defaming the government, saying he would not tolerate any more political activities obstructing the government's work or that of the judicial system.
"Who on earth would take responsibility if I allow such [one-sided] opinions to be made and cause damage to the nation? I don't care [about such political opinions] because if I cared, I would not have got to where I am now," Gen Prayut said.