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Pheu Thai seeks 'absolute control'

THE RULING Pheu Thai Party has joined forces with senators to push for the passage of legislation that would turn the House into a dictatorship and enable the government to "monopolise" power with absolute control in both houses of Parliament, Democrat Party Bangkok MP Ongart Klampaiboon alleged yesterday.

Parliament is today scheduled to deliberate in its second reading a bill that would amend constitutional articles involving the method of electing senators.

Ongart said Pheu Thai's move to have all senators elected and remove appointed senators would greatly affect the country's political structure, since the ruling party would easily acquire a parliamentary mandate through a majority.

"They have worked out this plan - it's a case of 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours'. All Pheu Thai MPs have endorsed the bill with their signatures, along with some senators, to make it look like this was the intention of all parliamentarians [rather than the government alone]. From the beginning, this legislation has been an exercise in favouritism and nepotism," Ongart said.

The Democrat MP said the content of the charter amendments is worse than some provisions of the 1997 Constitution, which was dubbed "Parliament of Slaves". The new amendments could be dubbed the "Parliament of Dictatorship of the Senate", Ongart said. The amendment would allow senators who side with people in power to appoint or remove independent agencies, and leave them merely serving those in power, he said.

Ongart said the government might also vote to pass three amendment drafts as House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont has already put the three drafts at the top of the agenda. They include amendments to Article 68, on constitutional rights to protect the Constitution; Article 237, on party dissolution and punishment of party executives; and Article 190 on parliamentary approval of ratification of agreements with foreign countries.

PM's secretary-general Sura-nand Vejjajiva said Parliament must move forward and push for the legislation in the second and third readings. He insisted the government had followed legislative procedures to pass the charter amendment. He called on the opposition not to call street rallies to discuss parliamentary issues.

"If the opposition wants to scrap the amnesty bill and the charter amendment bills, they should do it in Parliament. As MPs they have a responsibility; please do not create conflicts or create conditions that lead to coups," Suranand said.


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