Parliament convenes to discuss charter amendment but ruling party has the advantage

Parliament is set to debate and vote on seven charter amendment motions on Tuesday with voting on the motions scheduled for Wednesday.  

The voting has already been delayed for one month as the previous session opted to set up a committee to study the motions first. 

The seven charter amendment motions include proposals from the coalition, the opposition and the public. 

The latter was put together by the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw) and has received over 100,000 signatures backing it. 

Pro-democracy protestors have come out in support of iLaw’s petition which allows for the rewriting of the entire constitution, including clauses related to royal power.

The coalition and the opposition’s petitions do not touch upon the royal institution. 

They instead concentrate on getting rid of the military-appointed senate and its power to select the premier. 

Coalition proposal and paranoia 

With the majority in parliament and with the senate hand-picked by the deputy prime minister, the ruling coalition are in poll position to push through its motions. 

Howevevr, iLaw said this would effectively allow the ruling party to take control over the new charter drafting committee. The group said that such a move would not be representative and would freeze out the public from having a say in amending the constitution. 

Sira Jenjaka, a MP for the ruling Palang Pracharath Party argued that the ruling party’s proposals were the only one that would leave the nation intact as iLaw motion will pave way for Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister in exile, to come back to Thailand. 

Thaksin is a bogeyman of sorts for conservative Thais who see his involvement in Thai politics as the beginning of a long decline marred by corruption and nepotism. Thaksin remains popular with rural voters who were empowered by his administration. 

Sira said on Monday that iLaw’s proposals would get rid of the nation’s corruption watchdogs and pave the way for Thaksin’s return. 

He also said the draft will allow banned executive members of the dissolved Future Forward Party to return to politics.

Going Forward

During Tuesday and Wednesday’s parliamentary session, MPs can vote on three options. 

The parliament can vote to axe all petitions, amend only some sections that they agree upon, or set up a new charter writing committee to rewrite a new constitution.  If a new charter writing committee is set up, it members would consist of 15 senators (appointed by the military) and 30 MPs (17 from the coalition and 13 from the opposition), according to the coalition’s petition

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