Meechai wants action over ‘false’ booklet

national July 08, 2016 01:00

By THE NATION

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Activist admits publishing criticism of charter draft; CDC asks EC to investigate.



THE CHIEF charter drafter said he would speak to the Election Commission (EC) and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) about taking action against efforts to distort the content of the charter.
Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), said yesterday that copies of a document containing false information about the draft are being distributed just one month before the August 7 referendum. 
He said he was convinced that thousands of copies of the document have been printed and it must have been funded by a “certain group”. 
Meechai said he had obtained a copy of the document while lecturing at Government Complex in Nonthaburi, adding that a similar document had also recently been found in Chiang Mai.
CDC spokesman Chatchai Na Chiangmai said yesterday drafters had asked the EC to investigate after copies of the document were distributed at Chiang Mai University on Monday. He said the distribution violated the Referendum Law. 
The document looks like the booklet produced by the CDC and summarises the draft charter and specific points, he said. However, he added, the document also includes information that does not exist in the draft charter.
Udom Rathamarit, another CDC spokesman, confirmed yesterday that the “fake” booklet looked very much like the one released by the CDC, but also had content that opposed the draft charter. 
“Its content focuses on the controversial rights and freedom chapter in the charter and other points like the political structure, including the non-MP prime minister," he said, adding that it was more interpretation instead of charter content. 
He said the CDC and its chief were concerned that whoever was distributing the “copy” of the CDC booklet “did not have good intentions”. 
 
New Democracy Movement
The New Democracy Movement, a group of student activists, yesterday said they produced the document to criticise certain points in the draft constitution. 
Pakorn Areekul, a leader of the group, said the cost of publication was covered with donations, denying a suggestion that it was funded by a political group.
He admitted that the group’s standpoint was similar to that of politicians from “a particular party”, but added that the group “has kept some distance” from politicians.
Meanwhile, Meechai said he needs to discuss the matter with both the EC and the NCPO. 
“We have to know where this document comes from and how far it has been distributed,” he said.
EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said yesterday that he was ready to discuss the matter with Meechai, although no formal appointment had been made. 
“If the draft charter is really distorted, the EC will take legal action under the Referendum Law,” he said. 
Meanwhile, the NCPO has found instances of the law being violated in certain areas, although there have not been reports of provocation or violence, NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday.
He added that the law would be enforced properly in the run-up to the referendum. 
In a related development, CDC spokesman Chatchai met Interior Ministry deputy permanent secretary Prateep Kiratirekha yesterday to discuss disseminating information about the draft charter to eligible voters across the country. 
The meeting, which lasted about an hour, focused on the need for state-trained volunteers to make door-to-door visits and explain the charter, a source said. 
Meechai has voiced concerns about the draft charter’s content being distorted in the run-up to the national vote, the source added.

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