Phumtham Wechayachai, the Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce portfolio holder, has announced several experienced political figures who have consented to join the panel under his guidance.
Esteemed individuals, including the reputable legal scholar Choosak Sirinin, a member of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, and Nikorn Chamnong from the coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party, are among those joining the ranks.
“Their in-depth knowledge of the law, coupled with their considerable experience in constitutional affairs, is an indisputable asset to our team,” declared Phumtham.
In his statement, the Deputy Prime Minister shared that more potential participants have been contacted, with the panel’s size expected to remain below 30 to maintain effectiveness. The expert panel will consist of representatives from diverse professional backgrounds and varying political affiliations.
Phumtham expressed his certainty that the tenure of the Pheu Thai-led government would witness the drafting of an innovative charter alongside the release of its organic laws. This development is set to introduce fresh guidelines in line with the upcoming general election.
Phumtham confirms, “The upcoming constitution will exemplify democracy in its purest form. It will be neutral and accepted by all parties involved. A unanimous approval is required, and we must assure the final draft passes successfully in Parliament.”
The Deputy Prime Minister guaranteed that the first two chapters of the current charter, associated with the state and the monarchy, will remain unaltered. “To prevent the brewing of unnecessary disputes, we opt to preserve Chapters 1 and 2 concerning royal powers,” he firmly stated.
By designation, Phumtham’s committee carries the responsibility of “investigating strategies for conducting a national referendum”. The name does not explicitly reference any alterations to the constitution or the writing of a new version.
Phumtham anticipates the final list of committee members to be finalized by the following Friday, with the aim of achieving Cabinet approval at the meeting scheduled for October 3.
“Upon securing all committee members, I will initiate the inaugural meeting to establish a concrete work plan and organize a referendum. We will also decide the number of referendums to be conducted and the questions to be posed,” Phumtham announced, who additionally serves as the caretaker deputy leader of Pheu Thai.
He stated emphatically, “I assure you, our main objective is to devise a constitution inclined towards democratic principles. We will strictly abide by the Constitutional Court’s ruling on procedural compliance.”
In March 2021, the Constitutional Court decreed that any significant amendments to the existing Constitution, which has been in effect since April 2017 and supported by a majority of voters in a national referendum, require prior consultation with eligible voters through a plebiscite.
Phumtham also clarified on Saturday his committee’s strategy for swift and efficient work: they intend to draw from the formerly enforced 1997 Constitution, albeit with necessary modifications to mirror the current political scenario.
Often referred to as the “people’s charter”, the 1997 Constitution is noteworthy for its formulation incorporating inputs from the public, spurred by an elected government. However, it faced accusations of being manipulated extensively by the then prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and his Thai Rak Thai Party for personal and political gains. The military coup in September 2006, which overthrew Thaksin’s government during his seconde term, led to the subsequent abolition of the charter.