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Senators ‘fear protests’, want charter-change vote during daytime 

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Parliament will convene on November 17-18 for a special session to debate seven charter-amendment drafts, said Parliament President Chuan Leekpai.

Chuan discussed the debate agenda on Wednesday with government and opposition whips as well as senators’ representatives. Six of the drafts were proposed by government and opposition MPs while the seventh was written by the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw) and backed by more than 100,000 citizens. 

Senators have asked to vote on the drafts during the daytime as they are worried about protests. Chuan said he told them that protesters who gathered outside Parliament during the previous debate had caused no problems. The voting would take about four hours, he added.

Government chief whip Wirat Rattanaset, said the government will try to convince senators to back its Constitution amendments. Senators want five-hour time slots to debate the seven drafts.

Parliament should vote to pass the drafts in the first reading, then scrutinise them in the second and third readings, he said. To pass, a draft needs a majority of parliamentary votes (at least 375), of which at least a third, or 84, must come from the 250 junta-appointed senators.

The military-sponsored Constitution contains conditions designed to make it almost impossible to amend the supreme law, which critics blame for extending the military’s grip on power and expanding the reach of the monarchy.

Pro-democracy protesters have voiced support for iLaw’s draft, which includes a provision to make the monarchy more transparent and accountable. The protesters plan to hold another big rally on Saturday.

Published : November 11, 2020

By : The Nation