CDC draft critique 'reasonable'

CDC draft critique 'reasonable'

Wissanu sees value in academics' opinions

Six academics from several Bangkok universities announced Sunday they were speaking as Academic Network for Civil Rights. (Post Today photo)
Six academics from several Bangkok universities announced Sunday they were speaking as Academic Network for Civil Rights. (Post Today photo)

Recent comments raised by scholars opposing the draft charter do not violate laws as they only reflect academic views, deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Monday.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon disagreed with the scholars' remarks.

It is a campaign against the draft charter which is not allowed by law. They must "keep what they think in their minds", Gen Prawit said.

However, Mr Wissanu said the scholars' comments are still "under the law" and are not considered a wrongdoing, referring to the remarks made publicly by a group of university scholars referring to themselves as a network of academics for citizens' rights.

Mr Wissanu said the scholars only pointed out some flaws in the charter, prepared by the Meechai Ruchupan-led Constitution Drafting Committee, and also offered "reasonable opinions without a political agenda".

The network, which includes experts from Thammasat, Chulalongkorn and Kasetsart universities, said during a press conference on Sunday that the draft charter has problems in how it addresses the selection of a prime minister, the balance of power between state officials and politicians, and the rights of the people.

The scholars are worried about a provision that allows for an unelected "outsider" candidate to be chosen as a prime minister.

The draft is also criticised for weakening the rule of law and the the separation of powers. Measures to control judicial and independent organisations are not in place, the scholars said.

In terms of the rights afforded to Thais, there is a fear of possible violations as the draft allows for certain national security actions that erode rights.

Wissanu: Academics gave 'reasonable opinions'

Mr Wissanu did not say whether these concerns can guide public opinions about the draft charter, instead identifying what are considered to be unlawful methods to voice opinions of the draft.

He said if the methods involve "promising, distorting and fooling", they will break the Referendum Act, which was passed by the National Legislative Assembly early this month.

Mr Wissanu declined to comment on the military's decision to detain former Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook after he voiced his opposition to the controversial draft charter via his Facebook page.

The Election Commission has set Aug 7 as the date for the charter referendum.

The government remains reserved in what it will do if the draft charter is voted down, though Mr Wissanu said one option was to look for good points in past constitutions and use them to write a new charter.

It is not right to take the whole 2007 charter as a model because "if so, we cannot answer why the coup group seized power" in 2014, he said.

The National Council for Peace and Order will have final say on what to do if most people disagree with the draft, he said.


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