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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           13   July  2011

Pheu Thai move gets attention

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Critics yesterday voiced their suspicions about the motives behind the proposed move by the Pheu Thai Party to hold a referendum to decide whether the 1997 Constitution or the 2007 version should be used.

Kaewsun Atibodhi, formerly a member of the post-coup Assets Examination Committee, said yesterday that he suspected the move was aimed at paving the way for giving amnesty to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was sentenced to jail under the present Constitution, which was drafted after the coup of 2006.

Thaksin is widely seen as the de-facto leader of the Pheu Thai Party, which won an overwhelming majority in the July 3 general elections.

Former judge Manit Jitjanklab, a key member of Pheu Thai's working group on legal affairs, said on Monday that his team came up with the idea of a referendum as a way to prevent the party from being dissolved.

Pheu Thai's two previous incarnations - Thai Rak Thai and People Power Party - were dissolved by court for electoral fraud.

Kaewsun yesterday said he did not think reinstating the 1997 Constitution would help prevent Pheu Thai from being dissolved if it had actually violated the relevant law, particularly the Constitution. It was because the previous charter also called for punishing the violating party with dissolution.

He noted that Thaksin earlier had said he was mistreated by the current Constitution and that he wanted amnesty for politicians punished under the current charter.

Komsan Phokong, a former member of the constitution drafting assembly, yesterday said that holding a referendum to replace the Constitution was against the democratic principle of respect for the minority views.

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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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