Govt will borrow from previous charters if current draft is rejected

national May 20, 2016 01:00


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THE government has started working on a new round in the charter drafting process ahead of the upcoming referendum - how to handle the outcome should the draft fail at the poll, said Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam at a meeting with political part

Seventy-seven political parties and groups were invited to listen to explanations about the charter draft summaries and the referendum process at the meeting held by the Election Commission. 
Representatives from about 50 parties attended. And representatives of the four post-coup agencies – the Cabinet, the Constitution Drafting Commission, the National Legislative Assembly, and the National Reform Steering Assembly – took turns explaining.
Wissanu, on behalf of the government, outlined the lawmakers’ roles ahead of the referendum. Besides maintaining peace and order during the period, plus supporting the EC’s logistics, Wissanu said the government had a duty to ensure the National Council for Peace and Order’s roadmap went ahead as planned. 
And one of the scenarios it has foreseen for the August 7 referendum is that the present charter draft might fail, he said.
According to the NCPO’s roadmap, it’s the government’s duty to take care of matters after the referendum but this needs preparations in advance, and that’s the reason it started working on it ahead of the event. The deputy prime minister did not reveal the details, but said that what Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan had said about “picking old charters for use or amendments” was not a joke. 
Wissanu said charter drafters actually borrowed good parts of old charters to use in their versions, including the present version. So a new version, if any, would do the same by borrowing some good parts from the old charters to use or amend. This, he said, would not take much time, possibly one or two months.
The deputy prime minister was more concerned about a step |afterwards – writing the charter text in a traditional Thai-style book before proposing it for royal endorsement.
Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva suggested at the question session that the government should make it clear now what options lay ahead. 
It could start amending the interim constitution to pave the way for those options today, he said.
Abhisit asked the NCPO to lift its order suppressing political activities by political parties, saying now is the time to do so. Abhisit said people should be guaranteed freedom of expression and allowed to campaign on issues of importance to their lives which would be decided at the referendum.
He also called on the EC to clarify its regulations and the referendum law banning some activities deemed violent, aggressive and provocative, saying these were suppressing people’s right to express themselves ahead of the referendum.
Pheu Thai deputy leader Plodprasop Suraswadi said he agreed with Abhisit – the EC and concerned parties could not clarify unclear issues to political parties. He slammed the charter draft, saying it would more than likely cause damage to the country instead of healing the rift. Meanwhile, red shirt leaders yesterday called on the government to provide greater space for people who are against the draft constitution to campaign.
Jatuporn Promphan, chairman of the red shirts’ United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said supporters of the draft charter seemed to be enjoying much more space than the opposite side.
He said he was afraid the referendum might be cancelled if there were a high likelihood the draft would be rejected by a majority of voters.