The high-stakes world of parliamentary politics and the turbulent sea of legislative change are once again at the forefront of Thailand’s news agenda. In an announcement made recently, Adisorn Piengkes, the esteemed chief of the government whip and a Pheu Thai list MP, stated that the government whips will hold a meeting on October 24 to decide their collective stance on a game-changing motion. This motion, proposed by the progressive Move Forward Party (MFP), calls for a public referendum on amending the constitution, an issue that will be up for debate in the House of Representatives on October 25-26.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a simple proposal being slipped under the doormat. The MFP’s motion has earned its place on the House agenda, and the discussion over it will strictly follow the procedures laid out by the public referendum law – no exceptions. To ensure unity and a consistent stance, the whips representing the various parties under the government’s umbrella will convene on the morning of October 24 to hold an important discourse on the proposed motion. According to Mr. Adisorn, any decision on their support for the motion will only be made once the MFP has passionately presented their case.
Looming in the future is an intriguing and potentially transformative scenario. Should the motion be affirmed by the House of Representatives, it won’t be the end of the line. The next step is to seek endorsement from the all-important Senate before being forwarded to the cabinet. On the other hand, any rejection of the motion by the Senate will seal its fate – it would be unceremoniously dropped.
Amidst these complex machinations, the words of Parit Wacharasindhu, the spokesperson for the Move Forward MP, reverberate with hard-hitting significance. On Saturday, he said that the motion, if passed, would put the power in the hands of the people. A nationwide referendum will ask people whether they support the scrapping of the military-drafted 2017 constitution, and the crafting of an entirely new constitution – not by some secluded committee, but by an assembly of members elected directly by the people themselves.
The government has not been idle while all this unfolds. It has instituted a committee tasked with drafting its own proposal on a public referendum. According to Mr. Parit, the exchange of ideas and opinions in the House of Representatives will be invaluable in helping the committee arrive at a final decision. So as October 24 and 25 approach, Thailand’s political landscape waits with bated breath – the impact of these discussions could very well dictate the country’s constitutional future.