Facing an April of uncertainty
Contentious bills to be tabled; case on Preah Vihear to be heard in ICJSecurity agencies are closely monitoring political groups intending to stage rallies that may escalate into violence next month, National Security Council (NSC) chief Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatha-butr said yesterday.
Paradorn said three to four controversial bills are due to be deliberated in Parliament, including amnesty and the "reconciliation" bills.
"Differing views may escalate into conflict that leads to violence because many parties have not yet agreed on the issues. With an atmosphere like this, these bills should be put on hold for some time," he said.
Meanwhile, the Preah Vihear legal case will go ahead with the Foreign Ministry delivering its address to the International Court of Justice from April 15-19. "Some issues may arise that lead to misunderstanding," he said.
Earlier, Udomdej Rattanasa-thien, an adviser to the government whip panel, said a group of 50 senators led by Direk Tuengfang made several suggestions. They were:
l Amending Article 68 of the Constitution, which cites the authority of the Constitution Court 'to rule in case of doubt if a person or a political party has committed any conduct in acquiring political power in an unconstitutional way';
l amending Article 117 of the Constitution, which focuses how senators get their jobs, so that all senators are elected and allowed to seek re-election;
l amending Article 190, which stipulates that certain agreements to be ratified with foreign countries must be approved by Parliament, so the government's work proceeds smoothly;
l amending Article 237, which says party executives should be deprived of political rights if their parties are dissolved due to electoral offences, so only people who commit electoral offences are punished.
The group also suggested the charter be amended by the article, because a move to amend the entire charter would be met with concern and the government would face negative political consequences.
Most government whips agreed with the senators' suggestions, Udomdej said, but each party must look into the details carefully.
He added that the amendment of Article 91 of the Constitution, which needs to be voted on at the third reading, should be left as it is.
Government whip chairman Amnuay Klangpa said amending the charter article by article was a possible option. If senators want to amend the Constitution in that manner, they must table the draft amendment to Parliament and government whips will inform the Cabinet to decide on the next move.
"We have to make sure the proposed amendments are not different from what the government had earlier proposed for change," he said.
Opposition whip chairman Jurin Laksanawisit responded to the senators' move to amend the charter by Article, saying it was possible and there was no need to conduct a referendum. The opposition disapproved of the move to amend Article 68, which stipulates that if individuals or political parties suspect any activities are aimed at toppling the country's democracy, they are allowed to file a complaint with the attorney general or the Constitution Court, to stop the activities.
Jurin said if the provision was changed to allow the public to file complaints with only the attorney general, the public would be deprived of the right to have more than one legal venue via which to file the complaint.
The opposition also believed the move to amend the charter to have only elected senators who are allowed to seek re-election is just an exchange of interests between senators and MPs.