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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           18   August  2011

New government rushes to change Thai Constitution

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The new Thai government led by the Pheu Thai Party has reaffirmed its plan to amend the constitution but said coalition partners will be consulted about the move.

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranon yesterday said the constitution which was promulgated in 2007 needed to be amended as several of its parts were undemocratic.

The change should be carried out by an assembly made up of members of the public to ensure that the people would have a say in its content, he said.

Mr. Somsak denied, however, that the amendment plan was aimed at paving the way for an amnesty for deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who has been sentenced to two years in jail and is now living in self-imposed exile overseas.

Pirapan Palusuk, a Pheu Thai MP for Yasothon and a member of Pheu Thai's legal team, said the party would push for a public referendum which could be held in three months to ask the people which they preferred between the present constitution, and the 1997 charter abolished by the 2006 coup.

If the referendum showed the majority of the people wanted the 1997 constitution to be reinstated, the government would base the changes on that version of the charter.

To be able to make sweeping changes to the constitution, the government would need to amend Section 291 of the charter first.

Section 291 sets conditions for the 2007 charter's amendment. The amendment of Section 291 would pave the way for the appointment of a new constitution drafting assembly.

Brainstorming sessions would then be held to discuss who would be in the constitution drafting assembly, he said.

Mr. Pirapan said the Pheu Thai legal team has been studying laws to find out whether the government could hold a public referendum on charter amendment.

If the laws do not allow such a referendum to be held, the government would move ahead with the process to appoint the constitution drafting assembly.

It would do its job, and any changes would be put to a public referendum, however.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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