Thai Cabinet approves panel to draft charter amendment referendum

Picture courtesy of MRG Online.

The Thai Cabinet greenlighted the formation of a 35-member panel yesterday, tasked with drafting a prospective charter amendment referendum, as disclosed by Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai.

Serving as the chair of the committee, Phumtham revealed that the panel will comprise representatives from both the government and opposition parties, as well as legal experts, scholars, social activists, and lawyers.

Notable figures in the political spheres such as Chusak Sirinil of the Pheu Thai Party and Kittipong Kittiyarak, a former justice permanent secretary, are among the members.

Representatives from various sectors including General Chatchawal Khamkasem, ex-director-general of the Secretariat Department Office under the Permanent Secretary for Defence, and Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee, a political science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, are also part of the panel.

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The committee is set to conduct its inaugural meeting on Saturday to establish a framework for its operations, Phumtham stated they would meet with representatives from other sectors to hear their feedback.

“We expect to come up with a conclusion on how to proceed with the referendum by the end of this year.”

MFP absence

Nonetheless, Parit Wacharasindhu, a spokesperson and list MP for the Move Forward Party (MFP), disclosed that the MFP declined to join the panel due to lack of clarity on the panel’s goal and the framework that will guide further discussions on the proposed referendum.

Parit reiterated MFP’s position that a brand-new charter should be composed, instead of only amending select sections of the existing one. He insisted that the new charter should be assembled by a charter drafting assembly consisting entirely of elected members.

“This principle was previously agreed upon by several parties. But if the government fails to confirm this principle, the MFP has reason to be concerned that the panel may be used as a tool to discard it.”

Earlier, Phumtham anticipated that the reformation of the charter and the associated organic laws would be accomplished within four years of the amendment’s announcement. The government is keen on keeping the number of referendums as few as possible, considering each one is projected to cost between 3-4 billion baht.

In 2021, the Constitutional Court decreed that the public must endorse any proposition to modify the entire charter, and if that gained approval, another referendum must be held on the content itself.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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