Democrats slam senate PM move and charter

Democrats slam senate PM move and charter

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, centre, announces opposition to the draft constitution and appointed senators' choice of a prime minister in a press conference together with deputy party leaders Ong-art Klampaibul, left, and Jurin Laksanavisit in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo by Arada Chuenrung)
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, centre, announces opposition to the draft constitution and appointed senators' choice of a prime minister in a press conference together with deputy party leaders Ong-art Klampaibul, left, and Jurin Laksanavisit in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo by Arada Chuenrung)

The Democrat Party has opposed the move to allow appointed senators to take part in selecting a prime minister, warning it could spark greater political conflict.

It has also disagreed with the draft charter for weakening people's power and raising government influence over anti-graft panels.

Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva outlined the Democrats' stance in a press conference at the party headquarters in Bangkok on Sunday.

The Democrat Party could not accept the second question for the charter referendum, in which voters would be asked if senators could take part in selecting the next prime minister with elected House representatives, Mr Abhisit said.

He referred to the additional question that the National Legislative Assembly approved last week for the referendum on Aug 7.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) would appoint senators, and their selection of a prime minister would not be the people's will while contradicting the principles of the constitutional drafters, Mr Abhisit said.

The additional question was useless and would worsen political conflict, he warned.

To block senators from deciding on the prime minister's selection, big political parties would have to join hands, but that would cause greater damage because it would result in parliamentary dictatorship, he said.

He also called for people's freedom to comment honestly on the draft charter to ensure free and fair public participation in the referendum. Otherwise, he said, people would not accept the outcome.

Regarding the draft charter, Mr Abhisit said although it was aimed at fighting corruption, it replaced impeachment with court trial and that would make it difficult to tackle corruption.

He said the draft let the parliament president or government MPs handle corruption cases of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, so there could be bargaining between the commission and the government and anti-corruption efforts could be weakened.

Besides, the draft charter reduced people's power relating to their right to education, health and legal services, and consumer and environmental protection, he said.

As it increased government authority, the implementation of mega projects could cause conflict and economic development directions might not meet people's needs, Mr Abhisit said.

"The Democrat Party views that the constitution has more disadvantages than advantages. We disagree with this constitution. Thailand needs a constitution that tackles corruption and is democratic. Thailand should not have to choose between dictatorship and corruption," he said.

He also complained that it would be difficult to amend the new charter because that would require support from at least one-third of senators, and five-year provisional clauses of the charter would oblige two governments because their validity extended beyond the term of MPs.


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