Mon, July 04, 2022

in-focus

NACC fails to get approval for wiretap proposal


THE MAJORITY of the anti-graft bill vetting committee yesterday yielded to strong pressure and agreed to remove a controversial clause that would have allowed graftbusters the authority to eavesdrop.

The conclusion was reached yesterday, the second day of debate after legislators failed to reach a decision on Thursday and were forced to adjourn the meeting.
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai allowed each faction to continue making their points yesterday. 
The president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), Pol General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, persisted in making his point that wiretapping would improve the agency’s efficacy but the minority of the vetting committee and NLA members maintained that work could continue without such dangerous tools.
Chairman of the vetting committee Pol General Chatchawan Suksomjit insisted that the power was necessary for the NACC. However, he finally gave in as the chamber was taking too much time debating the matter. 
Chatchawan acknowledged that wiretapping phone calls was an intrusion of privacy and could be a political tool to get back at the people of the current regime once the political situation changes. The timing was not right and it was better to remove the stipulation from the bill for now, he said.
The NLA took the entire day yesterday with other controversial points, such as the tenure of the current commission as well as the declaration of assets and the liability of political office holders and government officials.
At 6pm, legislators completed debating the legislation but postponed the vote on the draft bill to next Monday.
Another hot issue in the debate concerned the term of NACC members.
The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), which is also responsible for drafting the organic bills, had insisted that any commissioners who fail to meet the new qualifications set by the new Constitution should be dismissed from office. 
The vetting committee, however, had revised the bill and allowed the current nine NACC commissioners to stay on and serve the term of nine years, as laid out in the bill, regardless of their qualifications.
Vetting committee members Jade Donavanik and Pattara Khumpitak argued that the stipulation could be unconstitutional.
Jade stressed that the new Constitution had laid out new qualifications for commissioners of independent agencies, adding that it was for the sake of reform. Commissioners who stay on must have matching qualifications or it would not be constitutional.
Pattara warned legislators that if they endorsed such a stipulation, it would be recorded that the Assembly accepted an organic law that was against the Constitution.
Both charter writers also questioned whether the vetting committee was selective in their compliance with the Constitution. 
Vetting committee member Pattarasak Wannasaeng argued that the stipulation was constitutional. He said the organic bills dictate the fate of the commissioners and that the Constitutional Court had ruled before that the NLA had the authority to decide whether they could continue their term.
Pattarasak said that the clause that allowed the NACC commissioners to stay on was in the transition section. There was no way it could follow the charter 100 per cent, he said.
 

Published : December 22, 2017

By : Kas Chanwanpen The Nation