An academic pointed out yesterday that the country was in “darkness” in the advent of the August 7 referendum on the draft charter.
Thammasat University deputy rector Parinya Thaewanarumitkul said people had no idea what would happen if the draft charter does not pass the plebiscite.
“This matter is crucial because it will affect the legitimacy and sustainability of the draft charter,” he said.
Parinya added that when the 2007 Constitution was put up for a public referendum, the government had told the public that if this draft did not pass the referendum, it would put to use one of the previous charters.
“At that time, people wanted the then-government to immediately declare which charter it was going to adopt. It was not like this referendum, when the public has not been told that a new charter will be written if this draft is rejected,” Parinya said.
He made these comments at a seminar yesterday entitled, “Look at International Referendums and the Thai Referendum”, held to mark the 18th anniversary of the Election Commission (EC).
He also said that the process of the referendum must be just. “Before the vote is called, people should have the liberty to speak. The correct way is to give both opponents and supporters equal right to speak about the draft,” he said.
Siripan Noksuan Sawaddee, lecturer from Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Faculty, called on the EC to be politically neutral because critics have been attacking it of promoting the “yes” vote, citing some lyrics of the song campaigning for the referendum that was produced by the EC.
“According to international practice, agencies like the EC are not allowed to take part in campaigning for voters to cast their ballot either way,” she said.
Sirpan added that should this draft pass the referendum, the country would have two charters in effect because the 2014 interim charter stipulates that the government and the National Council for Peace and Order will stay in office until a new Cabinet is appointed.
“The new charter will only go into effect at the end of next year, not immediately after the referendum,” she said.