File photo: Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit
File photo: Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit

New charter ‘will pave the way for reforms’

national December 04, 2016 01:00

By THE SUNDAY NATION

THE COUNTRY will be much reformed and developed following the promulgation of the military-sponsored constitution which passed a referendum in August, junta-backed figures told a seminar yesterday.



However, a Pheu Thai Party politician and a scholar voiced concerns over the reform plan, saying such moves should be inclusive to ensure that reforms are in line with people’s needs. 

“A constitution is written to put rules in place for the country’s administration, to make ‘raw powers, big families’, play the game under the same rules,” Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) spokesman Udom Rathamarit said during the seminar in Bangkok about the nation’s future under the new charter. 

He said the CDC had focused on morals and codes of conduct of independent organisations, governments, the House of Repre-sentatives, Senate, and judicial power. 

The drafters had tried to design mechanisms to balance the three branches of powers – executive, judicial, and legislative – to avoid monopolisation, he explained. 

“The CDC tries to console and [at the same time] coerce those who deploy public power to think carefully about whether it is right. [They] have to disclose [their use of power] to the public for scrutiny… [and] the state’s auditors have to be vigilant and see through the trick [before any irregularity occurs],” he said. 

In regard to the “tough” qualifications set out in the charter for candidates who work for independent agencies, Udom said the screening process needed to be tough so suitable members could be selected to deal with the difficult work that the independent organisations do. 

The spokesman said the national reform mechanism stipulated in the charter was important for driving the country over the next 20 years in a direction that the drafters want to see. However, he said, public opinion was a key element for the government in steering the reform plan, adding that in the future the charter could be amended on a logical basis, if people see that it “does not sound right”.

National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) member Kamnoon Sitthisamarn also anticipated that the country would shift to a new era six years after the charter is promulgated. 

He said Thailand would see volatility and instability because of unprecedented mechanisms enshrined in the charter, namely two newly designed organic laws on political parties and the Election Commission. Also, he said the charter has designed a mechanism for continual reform that future governments will be required to follow. 

Kamnoon said within 120 days after the charter promulgation, two Acts [one regarding reform plans and steps, and the other relating to national strategy] had to be rolled out. And the national reform plan would be finished within one year and a few months. 

In addition, the sweeping power that junta head and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has would still be valid after the promulgation and most of the Senate were appointed by the junta, he said.

Given these factors, he said, the new charter would dramatically change national structures.

Meanwhile, law expert Banjerd Singkaneti and former deputy prime minister Phongthep Thepkanjana believe that the state should encourage people participation in the reform process.

Phongthep, from Pheu Thai, voiced concern over the junta-appointed Senate, independent organisations, and the Constitutional Court, which are empowered by the charter to remove politicians from office, saying they could not be scrutinised by the people. 

He said it would be difficult for elected politicians to work effectively under such a system. 

Banjerd, a former dean of the National Institute of Development Administration’s Faculty of Law, said that under the new charter, political parties would still be influenced by big corporates and ideologically, political parties based on the people would not easily exist.

He said the patronage system would be more intense because of the sweeping power of the Constitutional Court, the Senate, and independent organisations under the charter.

Meanwhile, law expert Banjerd Singkaneti and former deputy premier Phongthep Thepkanjana said they felt the state should encourage public participation in the reform process.

Banjerd said that under the new charter, political parties would still be influenced by big corporates and ideological parties based on the people would not easily occur.

 

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