Yingluck pushes for charter overhaul

Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra made it clear yesterday that the Pheu Thai-led government would push for overhauling the Constitution if the proposal for rewriting the whole charter fails to draw a 50-per-cent turnout in a public referendum.

In fact, if we fail to reach the mid-way mark [for turnout], the government will turn back to amend the Constitution article by article," she said.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung has warned that less than the required half of all eligible voters might show up for the plebiscite.

Yingluck said that would not mean the government's effort was doomed, as holding a referendum was not her administration's idea but the suggestion of the Constitution Court.

According to the Constitution, a referendum can be passed if half of all eligible voters turn out to cast ballots, and a majority of that turnout then votes in favour.

In July, the court ruled in a case against proponents of constitutional amendment that it was against the charter to write a new constitution, as the current one was endorsed by the majority of voters in a public referendum.

The court also said that the 2007 Constitution in fact allows amendment by article.

Yingluck said that due to the court order, the government could not proceed with charter amendment.

The third reading of the charter change bill in Parliament was suspended following the court ruling.

Some Pheu Thai politicians want the government to go ahead with passing the bill, while others say the court ruling regarding the referendum must be followed first.

This was just a matter of different viewpoints within the ruling party rather than a dispute, she said.

Critics and opposition politicians have condemned the move to write an entirely new constitution, saying it was aimed at whitewashing former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra so that he could return home a free man.

Yingluck's brother, who fled overseas to escape imprisonment at home from a corruption case brought against him after the coup of 2006, is believed to be pulling the strings behind the ruling party.

However, Yingluck dismissed any innuendoes of favouritism.

"The constitutional amendment is intended for the people. We want to have a people's charter - one that is in line with democracy," she said.

The government's working group on constitutional amendment would tell the public what they would get from drafting a new version, she said.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanont Intarakomalyasut said the government's real intention was to scrap Article 309 of the Constitution to void the legal impacts of the post-coup Interim Constitution of 2006, under which the Assets Examination Committee investigated Thaksin and his Cabinet.

The government should state if it would retain that article and it should publicly outline how a completely new charter would be better for the public than the current one, the spokeman said.

Senator Prasarn Marukapitak said he believes Thaksin was behind the move to draft a new constitution, but the government was likely to lose in the referendum.

Kanin Boonsuwan, an academic and former constitution drafter, called on all sides to follow the Constitution.

"If they try to get out of the Constitution's framework, the dispute will get bigger and it will be more difficult to find a solution," he said.

Pheu Thai MP Weng Tojirakarn, who is also a red-shirt leader, said the government should move for the third reading on charter changes.

Weng said writing a brand new constitution was out of the picture, as it would not achieve the

minimum support required in the referendum.

Election Commission member Sodsri Satayathum, who is in charge of political party affairs and referendums, said it would be against the law for the government or state agencies to provide voters with free transportation to the referendum polling stations.

Some government politicians had floated the idea in the hope that at least half of the estimated 48 million eligible voters would cast a ballot in the plebiscite.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options