On Tuesday, the council, which included Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai, heralded the formalization of a committee tasked with crafting a blueprint for a constitutional amendment referendum. Prestigious Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin graced the occasion, which took place at the Government House (captured in an exquisite photo by Chanat Katanyu).
Serving as the committee’s custodian, Mr. Phumtham unveiled that the eclectic 35-member panel encompasses representatives from various government and opposition parties, eminent legal scholars, renowned social activists, and seasoned lawyers.
The politicos’ list reads like a who’s who of Thai politics, with Chusak Sirinil, a party-list MP from the Pheu Thai Party; Nikorn Chamong from the Chartthaipattana Party; Kittipong Kittiyarak, former permanent secretary for justice; Supachai Jaisamut from the Bhumjaithai Party; Dech-it Khaothong of the Democrat Party and Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana of the United Thai Nation Party.
The committee also boasts a diverse raft of representations from other sectors, including notable figures such as Gen. Chatchawal Khamkasem, the former Director-General of the Secretariat Department Office under the Permanent Secretary for Defense, the authoritative Pol Gen Suthep Dechraksa, former deputy police chief, and the activist Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat.
Additionally, Yutthaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, and Siripan Nogsuan Sawasdee, a political science tutor at Chulalongkorn University, bring an academic touch to this distinguished panel.
The inaugural rendezvous of this panel unfolds this Saturday, where they will ponder the framework for their daunting mission, says Mr. Phumtham. He added, “We aim to establish a concrete plan of action for the referendum and are estimating to bring it to a perfect conclusion by year-end.”
While the thumbprint for the council has received mostly positive critics, a Move Forward Party (MFP) spokesman and list MP, Parit Wacharasindhu, expressed disdain at the party. Parit rejected the participation invitation because of the unknowns about the panel’s primary objectives and the framework for future referendum talks.
Parit reemphasized the MFP stand that the whole constitution requires a fresh approach instead of sporadic amendments. He also stipulated that the new constitution should result from the collective minds of an entirely elected charter drafting assembly-more democratic and inclusive.
Concerns loom over the possible usage of this panel to disown that principle if the government does not affirm it. Mr. Phumtham previously envisaged that the constitutional rewrite alongside the pertinent organic laws should be wrapped up in four years following the amendment announcement.
The government has an ensuing motivation to limit the number of referendums considering that each one could dent the treasury between 3 and 4 billion baht. Last year, the Constitutional Court ascertained that any proposition to revamp the constitution must secure public approval. If it does receive support, another vote must be held on the proposed content itself.