iLaw to hand in full list of more than 70,000 names for constitutional amendment next week

Representatives from the public sector have handed in an open letter to the parliament to introduce their version of the new charter on Wednesday. 

The representatives, led by iLaw, a human rights NGO, has stated in the letter that they have gathered more than 70,000 signatures to amend and/or redraft the constitution. 

Protestors and opposition parties have been calling for the amendment of the constitution, which was drafted by the previous junta, over the past two months with large street protests and forums being held.

With the government’s approval, there are now two constitutional amendment petitions that will be discussed in parliament on September 23 and 24. 

As iLaw surpassed the initial requirement of at least more than 50,000 signatures to form a formal petition to parliament, their petition will become the third to be discussed in parliament.

The open letter also stated that the group will formally hand in all of the 70,276 names to parliament by September 22. 

They urged for parliament to consider and discuss their draft along with the two petitions that were handed in earlier. 

Somboon Uthaiwiankul, the secretary to the house speaker who received the letter, said if the draft does not change the constitutional monarchy system where the King is the head of state, the group will then be able to hand in all of the signatures to be verified as the next step.

He confirmed that iLaw’s version of the charter will be discussed by parliament on September 23 and 24. 

The NGO and a network of relevant public organizations said they have drafted an amendment to the constitution for three main reasons: dismantle the power of the previous junta regime (the National Council for Peace and Order), build Thailand’s way back to democracy and pave a way for a new constitution to be drafted under the participation and voice of the people.

The proposal is as follows:

To abolish:

  1. An OutsiderPrime Minister: a repeal of Section 272 which allows parliament to nominate unelected outsiders to become the prime minister.
  2. Say goodbye to the 20 Years Strategy: abolish articles 65 and 275 that allows for the NCPO to appoint its own people to write and implement the 20 Year National Strategy Master Plan.
  3. No National Reform Plan: abolish chapter 16 of the National Reform that is written by the NCPO which requires the Cabinet to constantly notify parliament on the progress of the national reform plan to the National Assembly every three months, cutting out the chance to follow up, suggest, or accelerate the national reform plan.
  4. Special local administrators: to repeal Section 252 requiring that the role of administrators for local governments can be acquired through “other means,” apart from elections or approval from local councils.
  5. Break the NCPO protection shield: to repeal Section 279 which determines that every action of the NCPO will not violate the constitution, ensuring that any announcement and order of the NCPO will remain in effect forever.

To amend:

  1. The Prime Minister must be an MP: to change the selection system of prime minister candidates, which currently allows for political parties to nominate non-elected citizens as the prime minister, and revise the constitution so that the position of prime minister must come from an MP only.
  2. Senators must be elected by the people: to abolish the 250 senators that came from the selection of the NCPO and revise that senators must come from elections only. To reduce the number of senators to 200 and use Thailand’s provinces as constituencies with the calculation for the number of senators per province based on the same system as the 1997 Constitution.
  3. Solve the recruiting process in the audit organization: to adjust the process of recruiting independent organizations from allowing them to freely select and rotate in positions, and switch to a recruitment process that properly suits the mission of each organization. To dismiss the current judge of the Constitutional Court and members of the independent organizations, and recruit a new judge to the Constitutional Court and a new set of members for the Election Commission of Thailand, as addressed by the 1997 Constitutional method.
  4. Unlock the mechanisms to amend the Constitution: to repeal the Senate’s power to consider any amendment of the constitution and allow for the amendment to be done without coercion in making referendums. 
  5. Paving way for a new draft of the Constituent Assembly: there shall be 200 members of the charter-writing committee, either as individuals or representatives of a group. One citizen can only pick one individual or one representative of the group.

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