CDC hands final charter draft to Prayut

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THE NEW charter was delivered to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday, who will seek to have it royally endorsed before it is implemented.

After working on the charter for a year, the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) yesterday finished its job and delivered the completed draft to the premier at Government House at the auspicious time of 08.59am.

The premier said he would spend 30 days reviewing the charter and checking whether it was complete before seeking royal endorsement.

The CDC had 30 days to amend the charter in accordance with the August referendum results. In the referendum, most voters accepted having the Senate join the Lower House to select a premier if MPs are unable to select a government head from names submitted by political parties.

The CDC first revised Article 272 of the draft in response to the vote, but the Constitutional Court ruled two weeks ago that the revision went against the referendum because it did not specify that the Senate would be allowed to waive the party lists to make way for a selected premier.

The CDC then revised the act in line with the court ruling, finishing it on Friday.

The CDC, led by its Meechai Ruchupan, met Prayut and government officials including deputy prime ministers Wissanu Krea-ngam and Prawit Wongsuwan as well as PM’s Office Minister ML Panadda Disakul yesterday.

After the hour-long meeting, Meechai quoted Prayut as sympathising with drafters who had worked on the charter despite controversy. The premier also told the CDC to be patient, Meechai said.

Once the constitution is implemented, the government will push for further work in line with its political roadmap, especially the writing of more than 100 laws as stipulated in the charter, Meechai said.

‘Unrest may derail’ charter referendum

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation


Military authorities yesterday transfer eight people accused of violating the Computer Crime Act by campaigning against the draft constitution to the Crime Suppression Division.

Military authorities yesterday transfer eight people accused of violating the Computer Crime Act by campaigning against the draft constitution to the Crime Suppression Division.

UDD leaders denied permission to visit detained activists.

THE REFERENDUM on the draft constitution may not be held if there is unrest in the run-up to the vote, a spokesman for the drafting commission warned yesterday.

Udom Rathamarit, spokes-man for the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), noted that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had said earlier that the referendum would not be held if circumstances made it impossible.

“If there is unrest and a lack of peace, I don’t think people will come out to vote,” Udom said, pointing out that though the interim charter requires a referendum on the draft charter, the junta still has the power to amend it.

Seree Suwanpanont, a key member of the National Reform Steering Assembly, said yesterday that the moves by detractors of the draft charter were “well organised with the goal of creating political unrest”. However, he declined to predict whether their efforts would result in the referendum being cancelled.


He made these comments after eight people – seven men and a woman – were arrested on the charge of violating the Computer Crimes Act by allegedly posting comments against the draft charter on social media and allegedly defaming certain government figures.

Spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Colonel Winthai Suvaree, said yesterday that the accused were also charged with violating the Penal Code for allegedly provoking public disorder. He said these people were working as a movement, not as individuals.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Prompan admitted that three of the eight arrested had worked or were working for him. He also accused the authorities of treating them too harshly, “as if they had violated the Communism Act, not the Computer Crimes Act”.

He asked the government to not create an “atmosphere of dread” among the public in the run-up to the referendum, which is scheduled for August 7.

UDD leaders tried to visit the accused yesterday at the 11th Military Circle’s Command, but were not allowed to meet them as the authorities said the suspects were being handed over to the Crime Suppression Division to seek the Military Court’s permission for their detention.

UDD slams ‘harsh action’

Other UDD leaders Nuttawut Saikuar and Thida Thawornseth, who tried to visit the accused, also slammed the government for what they described as harsh actions. They said such heavy-handed measures would show Thailand in a negative light in the international community.

Meanwhile, a diagram released by the military yesterday showed that the eight accused had links with each other and also were connected in some way to red-shirt leaders Jatuporn and Sombat Boon-ngam-anong.

The diagram alleges that one of the detainees, Natthika Worathanyawit, was the administrator of anti-government websites, and was hired by Jatuporn and Sombat to take care of their websites of a similar nature.

It alleges that Natthika was also linked to other detainees and they worked together to manage the websites with a budget of over Bt100,000 a month. Jatuporn had admitted that he knew two other detainees – Noppakao Kongsuwan, who took care of his Facebook account, and Thanawat Buranasiri, who had worked for the red shirts’ Peace TV.

The activists, arrested by military officials under a special power introduced after the coup in May 2014, were being held at Phaholyothin Police Station and nearby police stations yesterday.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai Party politician Watana Muangsook yesterday criticised the authorities for detaining the eight people for posting innocent comments on Facebook. He said their detention went against the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. He called Thailand “a new sick man of the world”.

Meanwhile, national police chief Pol General Chaktip Chaijinda said yesterday that he had instructed his deputy, Pol General Sriwara Ransibhram-anakul, to monitor groups that are campaigning against the draft charter.

Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda explained that the authorities were merely enforcing the law by detaining suspected violators of the Computer Crimes Act.


Charter draft ready for publication on May 23

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FOUR MILLION sets of the constitution draft and an explanation of the referendum’s additional question along with their abridgements will be ready for distribution on May 23, Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn said yesterday.

The Election Commission would, meanwhile, try to find out in its meeting on April 18 what people can and cannot do ahead of the referendum as several of these points have not yet been clear to the public, he said.

Somchai met with the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) and National Legislative Assembly (NLA) yesterday, and they resolved to give the CDC 39 stages nationwide to explain the draft charter. However, the meeting did not touch upon plans to set up stages for the public to express their opinions. They have also not yet agreed whether the NLA will join the CDC to explain the proposed additional question, which asks whether senators can join MPs in choosing the next prime minister.

Somchai said the referendum would be advertised on television in 10 different sessions, where both the NLA and the CDC will explain the draft charter to the public.

Meanwhile, the CDC completed two summaries of the draft charter yesterday and handed them to the EC in |line with the 2014 interim charter’s |regulations.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan told the press yesterday that the summaries would help voters understand the essence of the draft charter before they make a decision for or against it in the referendum.

The first summary is 35 pages long and explains the key elements of the draft charter, including citizens’ rights and freedoms, political mechanisms, and the origins of parliamentarians.

The second summary is more precise, comprising 14 pages and explaining with illustrations the draft charter’s 10 essential points, including the protection of rights and freedoms, anti-corruption mechanisms, and national reform plans.

The chief charter writer said voters who did not have the time to go through the entire draft charter could study these summaries and still get a picture of what the political structure would look like. However, those wishing to study the charter in detail could download the full version from the CDC’s website or get a printed version from CDC or EC offices, he added.

Should questions arise, voters can submit them to the drafters and they will try to respond to as many queries as possible, Meechai said, adding that he hoped the summaries would reach as many voters as possible, but distributing them would be the responsibility of the EC.

Meanwhile, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) secretary-general Teerachai Nakavanich said the Army was taking steps to boost understanding of the draft charter because it was the first step towards democracy.

“[We] ask that everyone try to understand how this constitution is different from others and come out to exercise your rights,” he said. “I think the [charter] writers aim to introduce reforms, so [Thailand] can move forward and be free of corruption without anyone exploiting the policies and taking advantage of the people,”

The draft charter has provisions for strict penalties against corruption, including the seizure of family assets, Teerachai said.

In his capacity as Army chief, he said he encouraged military personnel and their families to exercise their voting rights so others could acknowledge that the military was also democratic.

He said the current draft was perhaps the best constitution the country would ever have. He added that he hoped it would stay in place at least until reforms were completed, but that it could be amended after that.

Separately, the Cabinet yesterday earmarked Bt3 billion for the EC to |proceed with the referendum, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

Sansern added Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-chai chose to stay tight-lipped at the Cabinet meeting on what happens if the public rejects the draft charter, adding that the Cabinet chose not to address this issue either.

“The PM has said many times that he does not want to offer alternatives because that would only distract the |voters,” he said.

CDC defends move to change free education

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‘Governments could still help poor children do final high school years’

THE Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) has intensified its defence of the proposal to offer the 12 years of free education until Mathayom 3 level in a bid to prevent it from becoming an explosive issue.

The charter clause has already drawn opposition from parents and academics.

Article 54 of the charter draft, which will be decided in a public referendum in August, stipulates the state shall provide 12 years of free education starting from pre-school, instead of at Prathom 1 of primary school as is now the case.

If this stipulation comes into effect, children would only be guaranteed free education until they complete Mathayom 3, or junior secondary school, and not senior secondary school as it currently stands.

Parents have come forward to challenge the move. Critics have even labelled the article a violation of international declarations on children’s right to education.

“The allegation is untrue,” CDC spokesman Norachit Sinhaseni said yesterday.

He also dismissed suggestions that if the charter draft came into effect, Mathayom 3 graduates from less privileged families could lose their chance to further their studies.

“The charter draft does not bar the state from providing help and support to children who wish to further their education,” Norachit said.

He said if the current charter were promulgated, the state could focus its resources on helping students in need when they wanted to continue studying after completing Mathayom 3.

“Instead of paying for all Mathayom 3 graduates’ further studies, the state may then need to help just half of them,” he said. “These students will as a result likely receive not just free tuition but also help with other educational expenses such as lab fees.”

Udom Rathamarit, who chairs a CDC subcommittee on educational reform guidelines, said his panel had sought to address Thailand’s educational problems when preparing Article 54.

“We aim to reduce the gap among the rich and the poor, which stems from the provision of kindergarten education,” he said.

The CDC plans to distribute a document on the charter draft’s educational clause to rebut claims the draft will hinder children’s rights to education.

A part of the document says the charter draft will immediately benefit about 3 million children, ensure continuity in national educational plans and increase teacher efficiency.

The CDC also emphasised that educational services for pre-school age children was important because children developed significantly during that period.

Dr Pumsaran Tongliemnak, a researcher at Thailand Development Research Institute, said the country should be able to provide 15 years of free education because it was a middle-income nation.

Pumsaran also underlined the fact that the government had provided subsidies in support of pre-schools and provided the total resources were well managed, there should be no need to stop free education at Mathayom 3.

“If the country has some budget problems, it should improve budget-management efficiency,” he said.

In regard to the CDC’s suggestion that a fund should be set up to help Mathayom 3 graduates from less privileged families further their studies, Pumsaran said he was afraid children would have limited access to the fund.

“I also hope that the fund won’t be extended in the form of student loans,” Pumsaran said.

He believed that political will would ultimately play a major role in determining the country’s educational future.

“Judging by the content of the draft, the new government can decide whether to give more than 12 years of free education,” he said.

Athapol Anunthavorasakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, said children’s educational future should not be at the mercy of politicians.

“Children have the right to education,” he said.

He also believed that as a middle-income country Thailand did not need to lower the level of free education it provided.

“Also, I must reiterate here that if the free education really ends at Mathayom 3, a huge number of students may lose the chance to further their study,” he said.

CDC concedes to all of NCPO Senate points

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Junta to have full control of selection process; ‘outsider’ PM made more likely.

THE Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) resolved yesterday to allocate six Senate seats to top brass and to allow all 250 senators to be handpicked by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), in a move seen by some political observers as bowing to almost all of the junta’s requests.

Deliberations running late into Wednesday night and continuing yesterday morning also resulted in making it easier to waive parties’ three-candidate lists for the premiership, with a waiver now requiring fewer votes in a joint parliamentary session.

The senator selection process specified in the draft charter will have two major steps. First, 400 candidates will be chosen by a selection panel, which will be essentially appointed by the NCPO, and another 200 candidates will be recruited by elections taking place at the district and provincial levels, CDC spokesman Udom Rathamarit revealed yesterday.

In the second stage, the NCPO will then pick 194 from the first group and 50 from the second who will be seated as senators.

The military supreme commander, the commanders of the three armed force branches, the defence permanent secretary and the national police chief will also serve concurrently as senators by virtue of their offices, meaning they would have to leave the Senate if they left their positions.

Their successors would also take their seats in the Senate, Udom said.

“Being a part of Parliament would allow these top-brass officials to have a better understanding of issues,” Udom said, in line with remarks made by Deputy Prime Minister and key NCPO member Prawit Wongsuwan, who had said the structure could prevent future coups.

In addition, the NCPO will handpick another 50 candidates from each group as a “reserve” in case there were vacancies in the chamber.

The junta-appointed Senate would have the primary tasks of “safeguarding” the constitution, pushing reform-related laws and overseeing the implementation of reform plans, the CDC spokesman said.

“Every three months, the elected government will have to report the progress of reform implementation to the Senate. However, in the constitutional draft, there is no stipulation about the consequences or penalties that would follow should the government neglect reforms or not report to the Senate,” he said.

The charter drafters resolved that a committee be established to review whether new laws were enacted for reform purposes. The committee would comprise the Senate speaker, the House deputy speaker, the opposition leader, a representative from the Cabinet and the president of the parliamentary standing committee.

Parliamentary procedures in regards to regular legislation should proceed as normal, Udom said. In the case of conflict related to laws involving plans for reform, the two Houses would jointly deliberate on a resolution. The same process would apply when considering controversial legislation, such as the previously proposed general amnesty law that was rejected.

The CDC also resolved to reduce the number of votes required to waive the three-candidate prime minister lists, now requiring three-fifths of the two parliamentary chambers to vote for the waiver instead of the previous two-thirds. The move is seen as making an “outsider” prime minister more likely.

“Easier? Well it would be, but it also depends on the decisions of the houses,” Udom said, regarding the possibility of an “outsider” premier.

The spokesman underlined that such extraordinary rules were in the provisional clauses and only applicable during the five-year transitional period.

The CDC on Wednesday went on retreat to Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district to finalise the charter draft. The draft is scheduled to be finished and published next week, with a referendum planned for August.

Junta looks divided over whether CDC should reconsider revisions

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DEPUTY PRIME Minister and National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) deputy chairman Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday insisted the NCPO wanted ex-officio military leaders to have Senate seats, although Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam was apparently satisfied with the revisions of the charter draft this week.

Prawit maintained that the six top military leaders should be given ex-officio Senate posts to safeguard the charter and to resolve political conflicts without resorting to another coup.

Prawit made the remarks after the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) decided on Tuesday that the draft charter would stipulate the selection of 200 senators in the 250-member Senate who would sit for a five-year transitional period, as had been requested by the “four rivers of power”, including the NCPO.

Fifty senators will be cross-elected by 20 professional groups.

“I have no conflicts with the CDC. I only present the government and the NCPO’s proposals. It has nothing to do with meeting halfway,” said Prawit. “We want a five-year transitional period for the sake of the country and it is not about bargaining. The non-elected Senate proposal is aimed at achieving the reform roadmap and drive the country towards full-fledged democracy.”

Another source in the NCPO said the issue needed to be discussed further.

However, Wissanu said the CDC’s resolution was close to what the NCPO had requested and it should be acceptable, adding that he did not have a problem with the CDC’s decision to keep 50 indirectly elected senators.

“The CDC did its best to strike a balance between its inventions and the NCPO’s recommendations,” he said.

Wissanu said the charter draft would be more likely to pass a public referendum because people want an election, which the NCPO insists will be held next year.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said the CDC had a clear rationale when it revised the charter draft, especially regarding the point on selected senators, so he believed it would not be further revised. But that decision would depend on the NCPO, he said.

In regards to the ex-officio posts for military leaders, Meechai said the CDC had refrained from specifying the positions of military leaders as requested, instead leaving the selection to a committee that would be appointed by the NCPO.

In regard to party lists of three candidates for prime minister, Meechai said the CDC had agreed to allow the list to be waived in a joint parliamentary session, but with conditions.

However, the CDC insisted that senators could not vote for the prime minister. Meechai said the CDC would review the wording of the relevant section, but he added that it wouldn’t be further revised.

National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, however, called on the CDC to re-evaluate its decision and heed the NCPO’s recommendations, especially about the ex-officio senators.

Meanwhile, key political figures reacted negatively to the CDC’s decisions.

Former deputy prime minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said he personally rejected the CDC’s revisions, and added that the Pheu Thai Party disapproved of many points in the draft such as the single-ballot system and the deprivation of people’s rights, regardless of the latest revisions.

The Pheu Thai Party will make an official announcement giving its reasons why it rejects the draft, he said.

Deputy Democrat Party leader Ong-art Klampaiboon said he believed the CDC had tried to avoid conflict with the NCPO, although it did maintain certain elements of its original charter. He added that the CDC’s decision was not yet final because the NCPO might push new proposals or insist that the CDC accept its ideas.

Former Constitution Drafting Committee member Banjerd Singkaneti said the CDC’s resolution clearly showed that it gave particular weight to the NCPO’s requests as it had agreed to most changes.

Banjerd said regardless of the CDC’s decision, there would be fierce opposition from politicians and public figures opposed to elements of the charter, especially those guided by the NCPO.

He said the draft was still worrying because it did not offer a way forward given the current political impasse.

Jatuporn Prompan, head of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), slammed Meechai’s draft, claiming it would lead the country back to 1978 as elected parties would be sidetracked as “spare parts” in the political system.

Abhisit warns NCPO charter risks conflicts

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Parties agree selected senate is bad idea.

FORMER prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned yesterday that the junta’s suggestions for a more powerful selected Senate and a non-elected prime minister could lead to a new round of political conflict.

The Democrat Party leader urged the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) to carefully consider whether to revise its draft charter to incorporate the suggestions by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and other core government agencies, namely the Cabinet, the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly.

“If there is confusion in the system, you will be unable to get rid of suspicion and the allegation of attempting to stay on in power. What happens next is conflict. And this will destroy everything, including what the NCPO has done,” Abhisit said.

He said he was worried the new constitution could cause conflict in the future. “That will benefit no one,” he added.

The Democrat leader also said that CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan appeared to be aware of the viewpoints of the parties involved. “If it is clear that you are going to create conditions for a new conflict, [so] it’s better not to do it,” he added.

However, Abhisit said he was convinced Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also heads the NCPO, had no intention of holding on to power. He said he understood that Prayut was concerned the country’s problems seen before the 2014 coup would return after he steps down.

“But he should correctly determine the problem and tackle the problem in a straightforward manner. And he has to prevent suspicion that he and his team will become part of the conflict by staying on in power,” the former prime minister said.

Abhisit said a suggestion by the NCPO to have six top military generals appointed to a 250-member selected Senate was against democratic principles. He said that allowing permanent state officials to also act as senators empowered to scrutinise the government was “not right and could cause confusion in the system”.

Meanwhile, the Pheu Thai Party yesterday agreed that it was against democratic principles to allow selected senators to scrutinise and censure an elected administration.

“Military and police commanders are permanent state officials who are supposed to follow government policies. And they instead will be empowered to scrutinise the government,” the party said in a statement released yesterday.

Pheu Thai said it viewed the NCPO suggestions as an attempt to control the post-election government through its proxies, namely selected senators and a non-elected prime minister.

It said the new constitution was aimed at maintaining the NCPO’s power while failing to respect the voice of the people because it established control over the administrative and legislative branches.

Also yesterday, Meechai said the CDC had completed about 80 per cent of its revision work. He added that the drafters would consider the NCPO suggestions next Monday.

The CDC has until March 29 to complete the final draft constitution that will be put to a national referendum.

Earlier on Wednesday, senior figures from the country’s two major political camps – Democrat andPheu Thai – had cried foul over the junta’s suggestions, expressing concern that they would allow the military to dictate politics and the fate of the country for a long time.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, a key NCPO figure, insisted yesterday that selected senators would have no special powers over an elected government. He said the senators’ main duty would be to make sure the NCPO’s 20-year strategies for national reform were implemented.

“I have said many times already that we focus on reform and national strategies, and there are no other goals. Also, there is no hidden agenda at all,” he told reporters.

Meechai agrees to rewrite controversial article

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MEECHAI Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), said he would back the rewriting of the controversial Article 7 and add it to the chapter on General Provisions as before, but insisted that the Constitutional Court would be the final arbiter on the issue.

Several people had insisted that the clauses – stipulating that when no articles in the constitution are applicable to a case, it would be decided in accordance with constitutional practice – be included in the first chapter as always. Before attending CDC’s daily meeting yesterday, Meechai said the drafters would comply with this request, though he insisted that despite the change, the essence of the clause would remain the same. “We will adapt the clause from the 2007 Constitution. It stipulates who will have the final say when disputes arise and it will be the same in this draft,” he said, referring to the Constitutional Court.

As for the National Legislative Assembly’s proposal it would be the one to judge what can be considered a “crisis” before the Constitutional Court convenes a meeting with police, military chiefs and other relevant organs, Meechai only said it would be very similar to the controversial crisis panel.

“The public and you [the media] did not like that, did you?” he said, without elaborating. “We will write one [crisis-managing mechanism] if we have any new ideas. But if we can’t come up with anything, then we cannot possibly write it [in the charter].”

However, he added that the drafters had tried to write a crisis-preventing mechanism, hoping that it would be sufficient and that they did not have to create any special bodies like the controversial National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee proposed by the previous CDC led by Borwornsak Uwanno.

Meechai also dismissed reports that all senators would be selected, that each constituency would have three MPs and that all parties would be dissolved, saying the CDC had not discussed these points yet.

At present, drafters are processing comments from all sectors to perfect the charter draft, which is due to be completed by the end of March.

Meanwhile, on his return from the US yesterday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed the proposal to allow opponents and supporters of the charter draft to debate it, saying it was not necessary and it would have to go through a referendum any way.

Dictionary charter app

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An electronic dictionary has been launched to help Thais better understand legal terms, words and expressions used in the charter and charter draft.

National Legislative Assembly (NLA) deputy chairman Surachai Liengboonlertchai yesterday launched an application called Constitutional Vocabularies and Expressions Electronic Dictionary.

It can be used via the iOS operating system with easy and convenient access to the document.

The electronic dictionary will allow Thais to educate themselves about the charter via their computers and mobile devices. The application has an audio function that helps users know how to pronounce the words they search for.

Surachai said the dictionary was also useful for legal specialists and members of the National Reform Steering Assembly and Constitution Drafting Committee.

Surachai chaired the NLA’s committee on information and communications technology.

A Suan Dusit Poll last week found that most people did not have enough knowledge of the charter to make an informed decision on it in the upcoming referendum, which is slated for July. The application can be downloaded free at the App Store and at

Meechai refuses to rule out all-powerful body in charter

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NLA proposes crisis panel similar to projected NSRRC.

THE CHIEF constitution drafter yesterday declined to confirm that the new draft charter would not include a controversial crisis body that has been suggested by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).

Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), added that drafters were willing to write a charter in line with any convincing and reasonable suggestions.

After two weeks of reviewing the charter draft and gathering comments, key political entities – including the NLA, the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) and the National Reform Council (NRC) – yesterday submitted their official comments on the draft.

Among the suggestions put forward by the NLA is that there be a crisis-coping mechanism to allow Parliament to judge whether circumstances constitute a crisis. After that step, the Constitutional Court could convene a meeting of military and police chiefs, presidents of independent agencies, and others, which would have crisis-management authority to restore peace and order.

Such a mechanism is similar to the National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Committee (NSRRC) proposed in the previous draft by Borwornsak Uwanno’s drafting panel, which was rejected by the NRC. It was deemed by many to be “a state within the state” as such a mechanism could rule over the executive branch. The NSRRC proposal is believed to have been the primary reason why the former draft was rejected.

Meechai, however, said he did not know whether the new charter draft would also include an NSRRC-like body. He said the drafters would have to first review all the comments and proposals before making any decision, adding that they would follow any convincing, constructive and reasonable motions. He said the CDC would heed all opinions offered both officially and unofficially and make adjustments accordingly, provided criticism did not involve the CDC rewriting the whole draft.

“As far as I am concerned, the most worrying point the private sector has is about rights and liberties. There, we can manage to adjust. It is not difficult. Some asked that we add a word or two [into the rights and liberties chapter]. That we can definitely do,” the CDC chairman said before the panel’s daily meeting. On the electoral system, many have voiced a preference for the two-ballot system, Meechai said, adding that the drafters will discuss the matter again. “We will see if it means we have to rewrite the whole draft.”

The CDC will also consider adding a reform chapter into the charter draft as requested by the NSRC and the Cabinet. Drafters are very open to hearing all suggestions, Meechai said, adding that they also heeded casual comments made online.

As for the comments from the political sector, Meechai said the Democrat Partywas the only entity submitting official proposals.

Meanwhile, the NRSA yesterday resolved to call on the CDC to clearly require reforms in the draft constitution, as suggested by their 12 committees on how the draft should be revised.

At its meeting, the assembly voted 269-143, with one abstention, to submit the suggestion to the drafters.

Also yesterday, representatives of the now-defunct NRC submitted their commentary on the draft, pointing to what they perceived as weaknesses, such as the fact that the constitution would empower the state while undermining the people.

Former NRC members believe that under the current draft, the government would rule over citizens in every dimension as stipulated in the chapter on government duties, with the people “minor actors with only supporting roles”. They said such a motion would undermine people’s participation in politics.

For them, what was more worrisome was the fact that people would not be able to file lawsuits against the state if it did not follow constitutional stipulations in the directive policies.

They also expressed concern over an absence of clauses on “human dignity” in the rights and liberties chapter, though they understood the drafters had transferred many points to the chapter on government duties instead.

Banthoon Setsirote, a former member of the previous CDC, said it was necessary that the constitution stipulated clearly what rights people had. When something is a right, it is automatically the state’s duty to adhere to that, he said, adding that it did not work the other way around as the current CDC had written.

Among other suggestions, former reformers expressed their wish to see the constitution focus more on power decentralisation to strengthen the public and communities in general, and not only for Bangkok.

They would also like to see this so-called “anti-corruption constitution” mandate that candidates for political office must declare their three most recent annual tax records to make sure they were not unusually rich or involved with tax fraud.