Caught between two watchful guardians of the law, stands the awe-inspiring silhouette of the Democracy Monument, forming an unforgettable vista during an anti-government demonstration on the crisp afternoon of October 14, 2021. This breathtaking snapshot was captured by the talented lensman, Pattarapong Chatpattarasill.
Following this grandiose spectacle, our attention shifts to the crucial meeting of the newly-formed 35-member panel tasked with formulating a referendum that aims to set in motion essential amendments to the constitution. The council’s inception received a nod from the cabinet in the preceding week, reliable sources confirm. Chusak Sirinil, an esteemed member of the panel and the Pheu Thai-list, provides insights into the agenda for this key meet, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai.
The team central priority is to orchestrate a common ground on the critical matters such as the number of referendums required to make concrete decisions regarding the structure and function of the proposed drafting assembly — a body known by its abbreviation, CDA. Chusak reveals a glimpse into the complexity of the task, noting the split opinions concerning the count of necessary referendum rounds in adherence with the prior ruling of the Constitutional Court – an authoritative verdict that can’t be overlooked.
According to its 2021 mandate, the Constitutional Court declared an utmost necessity for popular validation regarding any intent to alter the entire constitution. The ruling further specified an additional referendum stage to endorse the modified content, mounting the total to a minimum of two rounds. However, echoing the prevailing discourse, Chusak hinted at the possibility of a supplementary third round.
Chusak synthesizes another core dispute within the committee – the varied perspectives concerning the CDA’s construction and operation. While some members champion the idea of a CDA elected entirely by public vote, others advocate for the inclusion of appointed members. This contention, he maintains, will need to be settled before any substantial work can occur.
Faithful to his optimism, Chusak predicts an agreement upon these contentious issues by the close of the year.
However, following this optimistic outlook, an unexpected turn of events manifested itself. The Move Forward Party’s (MFP) leader, Chaithawat Tulathon, announced last Friday that although his party would contribute suggestions to the panel, they have officially opted to abstain from participation. This decision, he highlighted, stresses the government’s responsibility to engage with all significant parties, enabling them to express their perspectives. Such an inclusive approach, he hopes, will prevent another wave of political turbulence.
Pita Limjaroenrat, Chief Advisor of MFP, reaffirmed the party’s aspiration for a comprehensive transformation and championed the cause of a CDA elected directly by the public. Justifying the MFP’s stance, he indicated mistrust in the panel’s inception and its intention to delay the amendments, leading to their ultimate decision to remove themselves from the panel.