Skip to main content

Charter drafters aiming to increase the power of citizens

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), working on Thailand’s new Constitution, has proposed the creation of five new bodies designed to increase the power of citizens and reduce social inequality and corruption, leading drafters said last week. The five new bodies include an ethics assembly, a citizen’s council and a civic scrutiny council.  The CDC is due to present the first draft in April.  The drafting of the Constitution must by law be completed by September – paving the way for holding of elections in early 2016. 
 
Borwornsak Uwanno, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), said the drafters were determined to establish a framework for governing based on four key agendas: empowering the citizen's sector; fostering clean politics, with the right balance between the upper and lower houses of Parliament; fostering social justice and creating an enabling environment for peace and reconciliation.
 
Views, however, remain diverse.  Prominent members of the country’s two leading political parties – the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties – have, nonetheless, criticized the work of the CDC.  Speaking at a forum on the future of Thai politics, organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on March 12, they claimed that the drafters are attempting to weaken the power of political parties, saying that is undemocratic.  They also pointed to the CDC’s proposal that the members of the Senate be appointed or indirectly elected, as opposed to directly chosen by the people.
 
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters that the work of the CDC was far from final, and that elements of the draft charter could still be changed. 
 
Borwornsak countered criticism from leading politicians by saying "Most citizens who [benefit from the charter] have lacked the opportunity to express opinions about this charter through the media and that's why this draft was criticized so much in the headlines."
 
Anek Laothammathas, another CDC member, said that the charter is intended to boost public participation in the political process, governing and administration.  Despite provisions in previous constitutions that supposedly had the same goals, he said that most members of the public only engage in the political process during the few minutes it takes for them to cast their votes.
 
The five new bodies proposed by the CDC are:
 
Citizen Council: Each province will have its own Citizen Council to give administrative support to the governor and provincial officials.
 
Civic Scrutiny Council: Also in each province, this body will monitor and scrutinize projects and budget disbursements.
 
National Ethics Assembly: This body will scrutinize alleged ethics violations among elected officials and bureaucrats for possible impeachments.
 
Election Organizing Committee: This will replace the Election Commission.
 
Fiscal Discipline and Budget Division of the Administrative Court: This division will consider cases against politicians and bureaucrats accused of wasting or mismanaging taxpayer funds.
 
Bowornsak also said the new charter will allow for a public referendum on proposed amendments to major principles of the constitution.  Such amendments will need the support of two-thirds of parliament before being put the public.
 
A contributing factor to last year’s political crisis was the ruling party’s attempts to amend the previous charter simply through its majority in parliament without submitting the amendments to the public for a vote.  Critics said the amendments were designed to cement the ruling party’s grip on power.
 
Thawilwadee Bureekul, who leads the CDC’s panel charged with gathering opinion and public participation, noted the enthusiasm that people displayed when participating in forums, which her panel held in different provinces.  She said this showed the public wants to play a part in national reform, rather than being presented with set ideas from the authorities.
 
Since January 2015, the CDC’s public participation panel had organized 7 forums in Udon Thani, Roi Et and Surin in the Northeast, Chiang Mai in the North, Songkhla and Surat Thani in the South, and Suphan Buri in the Central Plain.    Among key ideas proposed by the public include: solving and preventing corruption, strengthening people's rights to scrutinize corruption issues; promoting a stronger political institution, getting politicians to stick by standards of morality and ethics; promoting better civil politics and setting up a people's assembly; promoting reconciliation; and providing better education and equality in the South.
 
See the orginal article at Thailand e-Focus

Share this article

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday

thailandtoday thailandtoday thailandtoday