Meechai seeks PM meet on charter job

Meechai seeks PM meet on charter job

3 others eyed for CDC chair, Wissanu says

Meechai Ruchupan, the top candidate to head the new team to try to write a constitution, won't commit to the job until he discusses it with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, but the government has three other applicants waiting, just in case. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)
Meechai Ruchupan, the top candidate to head the new team to try to write a constitution, won't commit to the job until he discusses it with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, but the government has three other applicants waiting, just in case. (Photo by Thanarak Khunton)

Legal expert Meechai Ruchupan wants to meet for talks with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha before deciding whether he will chair the new Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Monday. 

Mr Wissanu said Mr Meechai will discuss the matter with Gen Prayut after the prime minister returns from the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. 

Mr Wissanu earlier admitted he had asked Mr Meechai to head the new charter drafting panel. Media speculation about Mr Meechai taking the panel's helm has been rife.

Mr Meechai did not set any conditions for his participation, Mr Wissanu said.

He only wanted to ask the premier who will also be appointed to sit on the 21-member charter drafting committee.

Gen Prayut, in his capacity as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief, has 30 days to pick new charter drafters after the National Reform Council (NRC) on Sept 6 rejected the draft charter written by the now-defunct charter drafting committee led by Borwornsak Uwanno.

The NRC itself was also dissolved.

Mr Wissanu said the charter drafting process is a major task and charter drafters will have to race against time to finish their jobs. In light of this, it is natural for anyone who might chair a committee to want to know about the other members' background so they can work as a team, Mr Wissanu said.

If Mr Meechai accepts the invitation to head the drafting committee, he can also propose some charter drafting candidates for Gen Prayut to consider, the deputy prime minister said.

Mr Wissanu said three or four other people have also been approached to chair the drafting panel if Mr Meechai declines the offer. Mr Wissanu refused to disclose who they are.

Mr Wissanu said there are about 30 potential panel members, adding the list of potential candidates will be cut down to 21 before submission to the prime minister for a decision.

Mr Wissanu also said the chairman of the new drafting charter panel will not necessarily be a legal expert.

Anyone who has made an honest living can be a candidate for the position, he said.

He added the interim charter also prevents the charter drafters from holding any political office for two years after finishing their job, to prevent any conflict of interest.

When asked if Mr Meechai, who is also an NCPO member, can help shorten the charter-drafting process, now set at six months, if appointed to lead the drafting panel, Mr Wissanu only said the role of NCPO members is different from that of charter-drafting panel members. His experience in working for the junta is regarded as an asset, as it could speed up the process.

Meanwhile, National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said Monday he knew nothing about a report the NCPO would approach Gen Jira Komutpong, a former NRC member and a former Judge Advocate-General, to chair the new CDC if Mr Meechai turned down the offer.

Mr Pornpetch also said it is up to the prime minister to decide whether to appoint NLA members to sit on the new CDC.


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