'Decrees should be revoked, charter rewritten subject to a referendum'
Legal scholars, known as the Nitirat Group, issued a statement yesterday calling for the expunging of all records and judicial decisions originating from the 2006 coup, as Thailand marks the fifth anniversary of the military takeover amid lingering concern about the armed forces' role in politics.
The group, led by Thammasat University law lecturer Worachet Pakeerut, outlined steps it said could restore the country as if the seizure of power had never happened.
In the first step, all decrees and actions taken by the junta should be nullified. To accomplish this, the government should undertake to:
ldeclare a cancellation of the coup and the junta's decrees and actions from Sept 19 to Sept 30, 2006 before installation of the transitional government;
ldeclare Articles 36 and 37 of the 2006 Interim Constitution null and void, to end sanction of the coup;
ldeclare a revocation of all judicial decisions by the Supreme Court and the Constitution originated by coup decrees;
ldeclare the termination of all legal proceedings initiated by the Assets Examination Committee;
lexpunge records not tantamount to a pardon or an amnesty under which the accused can still be prosecuted under due process;
lrewrite the charter subject to a referendum.
For the second step, Article 112 of the Criminal Code should be revised to ensure a balance between any offence against the monarchy and the punishment.
For the third step, the government should ensure the restoration, including compensation payments, for victims of political violence that resulted from the coup. The blanket amnesty should not be enforced with an ulterior motive to help perpetrators of violence. But all suspects should be able to avail themselves of due process.
In the fourth and final step, the Constitution should be repealed due to its link to the coup. The charter rewrite should be based on four suspended charters - two promulgated in 1927, one in 1946 and one in 1997.
The draft charter should be put to a referendum vote before the promulgation.
On Saturday, the red shirts held a symposium to reiterate their stance against military intervention in politics and warned that the 2006 coup that toppled Thaksin Shinawatra was unlikely to be the last.
Thammasat economist Assoc Prof Pichit Likhitkijsomboon, a staunch supporter of Thaksin, claimed coupmakers might this time act under the pretext of martial law after forging a war with a neighbouring country.
Pheu Thai party-list MP Col Apiwan Wiriyachai, another panellist at the event organised at the Royal Hotel by the June 24 Group for Democracy and Thailand Mirror, urged the Thai public to rise against any future coup. Apiwan told red shirts to be vigilant. "The next three to four years will be crucial," he said. Apiwan also launched fierce attacks on Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda.
Pichit claimed a new charter to replace the junta-sponsored 2007 charter was necessary to do away with unchecked power of the "elites" in the Senate and various so-called independent organisations.
Pol General Ajiravid Subarnbhesaj, a former deputy police chief, urged the judicial system to refuse to recognise any future coup makers as legitimate.
The panel concluded that a "time-frame" for ousting the Yingluck administration may be six months.