Local news

House passes public referendum motion on charter amendment but dispute looms


By Thai Newsroom Reporters

AN URGENT MOTION to hold a public referendum on the amendment of the whole constitution today (Sept. 15) passed an initial approval in the House of Representatives albeit with less than half the total number of MPs.

Only 215 MPs voted in support of the motion jointly proposed by Move Forward Party and Pheu Thai Party for the government to conduct the public referendum on whether most people nationwide may prefer to see the comprehensive amendment to the coup junta-designed constitution which has been largely seen as practically undemocratic, utterly complicated and contentious.

However, such motions need yea votes from no less than half the total of MPs, accounting for 239, to pass into law in accordance with parliamentary meeting rules. Minutes before the legislators cast their vote, the House meeting was found to have 242 MPs attending, thus barely over half the total number.

Opposition lawmakers concluded that the approval in principle which has come up short of half the total number of the currently performing MPs will likely lead to a heated dispute between the proponents and opponents to the motion over its own legality and suggested that it be subject to a new round of voting upon the reopening of a parliamentary session in early November.

Deputy House Speaker Supachai Bhosu finally adjourned today’s House meeting until early November. The legislative branch is scheduled to take recess for a month and a half beginning on the upcoming Monday.

The motion lodged by the Move Forward Party MP calls for the public referendum on the sought-after amendment to the whole charter to be held on the same day as the next general election to save cost and time and provide convenience for those who will go to the polls.

If given a majority of yea votes from the public referendum, a constitution drafting council will be set up to do the initial tasks of amending the whole charter which will then be deliberated by the legislative branch.

The Move Forward and Pheu Thai proponents to the motion remarked that the 2017 constitution has practically caused a major setback to democratic rule since it was designed under guidance of the 2014 coup junta headed by army chief-turned-Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who is currently suspended by court from performing as head of government.

The Constitutional Court is scheduled for Sept. 30 to deliver a ruling on Prayut’s eight-year tenure maximumly provided by law which may already have ended since last month on account of his rise to premiership since 2014 the year in which he managed to name himself head of a post-coup, military-installed government.


MPs attending a meeting at the Parliament. Photo: Matichon Weekly

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