Thailand’s MPs and Senators have kicked the constitutional can down the road at least a month after the parliament failed to agree on charter amendments. A panel will be sent up to examine 6 motions that were proposed and debated over the past 2 days. Meanwhile, up to 2,000 protesters were gathered outside the unfinished parliamentary buildings as an act of solidarity for the MPs supporting the changes to the current Thai Constitution.
The reality of the vote, and the setting up of an investigative committee, could push any votes on real reform well into 2021.
The 2 Houses of Parliament voted 431-255 to delay the vote. Opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward MPs stormed out and missed the opportunity of nominating anyone to the new 45 member parliamentary committee to examine the motions, whilst the remaining members chose members for the committee. Move Forward Party’s, Pita Limjaroenrat, described the vote as “a way to stall for time” complaining that the decision “was moving the country towards a dead end”.
It was not known how the NCPO hand-picked Senators would vote on the bills. Many were thought to side with the idea of constitutional reform but the reality was that, in most scenarios, they’d be voting themselves out of a job if any reforms went ahead. Thailand’s entire upper house is a military-appointed rump of conservative former businesspeople and Army officials, mostly men.
The protesters viewed the afternoon’s proceedings as a blunt stalling tactic to keep the current parliament, and its unelected senators, in power. The session ran until 8.30 last night. Rather than face the angry mob of anti-government protesters at the front of the building, most of the senators escaped on boat at the rear of the building, which backs onto Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.
The demonstrators, with a consistent theme of reform over 3 months of rallies, are demanding changes to the current constitution because it was drafted by the NCPO who kicked out the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.
The protesters specifically point to the NCPO-appointed senate and the power they wield to elect the country’s prime minister, even though none of them were elected (nor was Prayut Chan-o-cha).
Protesters say they will now organise the next lot of rallies in October. Meanwhile, the Parliament is now is recess.
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