NUTTAWUT Saikuar, leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), hit out at the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) yesterday and asked why Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha does not oppose the “outsider PM” article in the draft charter.
The red-shirt leader noted that while the government said proposals to alter the charter draft came from the Cabinet – not the NCPO – it was signed and approved by Prayut, who is both prime minister and junta leader.
“Does the intention to not mention an ‘outsider PM’ mean the NCPO agrees with the matter or not?” the UDD leader asked, noting that the Cabinet’s proposed changes do not include a plan to alter the “outsider PM” article in the charter draft.
He said that as Prayut is seeking assurance to push forward with national reform plans, to prevent further conflict and corruption without exercising another coup after a direct election is held, he believed that everyone wants the same thing guaranteed, yet in reality, this was hard to achieve.
“Even now there is no guarantee that the new constitution will be democratic,” he said. “If the authorities do not accept the principle that everyone is equal, there is no guarantee [of pushing national reform plans forward and preventing conflict in the future] as well. We always solved these issues with a coup all along. The truth is that each time there is a coup the issues are never been solved, rather they [the coup-makers] merely use their authority to suppress the issues and wait for them to happen again.”
Therefore, instead of asking for a guarantee that such issues won’t happen again, authorities should ask themselves if they create any assurances for the people or not, Nuttawut said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) said it had received proposals from the National Reform Council (NRC) and the Cabinet in regard to amending certain charter articles.
CDC spokesman General Lertrat Rattanawanich insisted yesterday that the CDC would be open to altering articles in the charter, and willing to accept suggestions from all sides.
Lertrat said the CDC would give an opportunity for NRC and Cabinet members who submitted motions to alter charter articles to explain their reasons from June 2 to 6.
The spokesman said people who will explain their recommendations to the CDC will be divided into nine groups –eight lots of reformers and one group from the Cabinet. Each would have no more than five members and would get up to three hours to argue their cases.
“If related agencies such as the National Anti-Corruption Commis-sion [NACC] and Election Commis-sion [EC] want to suggest their ideas to the CDC, the drafters are also willing to listen and the CDC has already given tasks to their subcommittees to gather material from other related organisations, in order to give those suggestions further scrutiny,” Lertrat said.
Asked if the 100 revisions to the draft proposed by the Cabinet were more important than proposals from the NRC, Lertrat said the CDC gave importance to every proposal, but the scrutinising process would depend on reasons given for altering articles.
“We are willing to amend the articles to make these articles more suitable, because no particular person owns the constitution. The purpose of amending charter articles – the process – is to make the charter acceptable to people in society, and we will scrutinise them thoroughly,” the spokesman said.
As long as the process was yet to reach the approval stage, the charter draft could be amended.
Asked if altering more than 100 articles was possible, Lertrat said that depended on the reasons for altering them. One proposal suggested eliminating the words “civilian” and “political interest group” – and that could affect more than one article.
Charter drafter Thawilwadee Bureekul said she had looked at some of the proposals reformers and ministers had made, and she believed that all the motions and proposals by related agencies were useful for the CDC to scrutinise.
However, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva voiced opposition to the reconciliation committee that will be set up under the new charter having the capacity to grant pardons to wrongdoers.
The new constitution stipulates setting up an independent reconciliation committee and giving it the authority to grant pardons for wrongdoers who admit to their actions and tell the truth to the committee.
Abhisit said after he forwarded his proposals to amend the charter draft, the reconciliation committee would have excessive power in granting pardons and that should be removed from the draft.
He also suggested scrapping Articles 181 and 182, which give the prime minister authority to propose laws or to decide which laws will be passed if the opposition does not file a no-confidence motion.