Abhisit says no to top brass in upper house 

Abhisit says no to top brass in upper house 

Plan is undemocratic, Democrat boss insists

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (foreground) says the military regime has gone too far - that plans to put top brass in an appointed senate are undemocratic. (File photo)
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (foreground) says the military regime has gone too far - that plans to put top brass in an appointed senate are undemocratic. (File photo)

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has voiced strong opposition to the regime's proposal to allow military top brass to sit in the Upper House during the country's democratic transition.

Describing the proposal as undemocratic, Mr Abhisit said he could not see how these individuals could make a difference except by exerting control over the rest of the Senate, which, if this was the case, would raise more questions than answers.

The National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) proposal calls for the charter drafters to introduce an appointed Senate during the five-year post-election transition and to appoint six seats to military top brass who are not currently NCPO members.

The six seats are to be given to the defence permanent secretary, supreme commander, commanders of the three armed forces and the national police chief.  

Critics say the military's proposal is a "coup in disguise" being prepared against the future elected government as the proposal also seeks to allow appointed senators to propose a no-confidence motion against the government.

Mr Abhisit said if the NCPO is concerned that an elected government will intervene in the military's affairs, it should push ahead with reforms to keep political interference at bay.

He said not only will the proposal not solve national problems, but it will create conditions for instability which would lead to more problems by giving power to a select group of people.

The Democrat leader has called on the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), headed by Meechai Ruchupan, to stand by what is good for the public and help the draft charter pass a referendum.

"If the system is messed up with questions about [the NPCO] prolonging its stay in power ... we're heading for a new conflict which will ruin everything the NCPO has tried to do," he said.

He said he did not want to see the charter become the centre of political conflicts.

Mr Abhisit declined to comment on whether parties would boycott a general election if the CDC goes ahead with the military's appointed Senate proposal.

He said he could not foresee what would happen although any threat of retaliation against the proposal would hold the country back.

The Democrat leader also reiterated his call for the NCPO to relax a ban on political activities ahead of the charter referendum, just months away.

According to Mr Abhisit, a referendum is designed to justify the charter draft, so the public should be allowed to criticise its flaws and merits openly.

On the junta's proposal for larger constituencies which would see three member of parliament positions open whereupon voters would be allowed to choose just one candidate, Mr Abhisit said the proposal does not seem to reflect the people's mandate. 

Under the proposal, the three most-voted-for candidates will be endorsed as MPs.

He said the proposed system will likely prompt candidates from different parties to make deals involving the sharing of political support and seats. Together with the proposed appointed senators, the Democrat leader said politicians will be prone to benefit-sharing.

"I believe the CDC will consider the proposal thoroughly. The charter applies to the whole nation and the CDC shouldn't be concerned about who makes the proposal.

"It should consider the content and make decisions based on the people's best interests," he said.

In another development, the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) is scheduled to hold a meeting on April 1 to discuss possible referendum questions for submission to the National Legislative Assembly.

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