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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    6 June 2012

Thai parliament bows to Constitution Court

06 June 2012

The House Speaker of Thailand decided yesterday to withdraw voting on the constitutional-amendment bill and debate on the controversial reconciliation bills from parliamentary session agendas.

Somsak Kiartsuranond said he did this after obtaining legal advice that going ahead with a vote on the charter-change bills after last week's order by the Constitution Court for it to be suspended could cause the opposition Democrat Party to seek disbandment of the ruling Pheu Thai Party, according to a source.

"In fact I disagree with the court order but for the sake of reconciliation, I will step back. I also do not want this matter to be used in seeking Pheu Thai's dissolution," Somsak was quoted as saying.

Somsak, who is the Parliament president ex officio, had a three-hour meeting yesterday with legal advisers.

The Pheu Thai Party yesterday challenged the Constitution Court's power to order a suspension of the third and final reading of the government-sponsored constitutional-amendment bill. It said the order could be viewed as intervention into the legislative branch.

Pheu Thai MPs resolved at a meeting yesterday that the party disagreed with the court decision, according to party spokesman Prompong Nopparit.

He said MPs agreed that the court had no power under Article 68, which was cited in making the order after the court decided to accept for judicial review five separate petitions for it to rule whether the charter-change bills were constitutional.

"The Constitution Court's president has no legal power to order the legislature to suspend deliberation of bills. This is likely to be interference with the [branch's] sovereign power," Prompong said.

He said that Pheu Thai would explain its stance during the joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Friday as to why it disagreed with the court. However, no decision was made as to whether to go ahead with voting on the final reading of the amendment bills.

Meanwhile, the opposition called on the Parliament president yesterday to follow the court's order to avoid problems in the future. Chief whip Jurin Laksanavisit said opposition MPs would walk out in protest if the court decision were ignored and Parliament went ahead with voting.

Jurin, who is from the Democrat Party, called on the House Speaker not to call a meeting to vote on the amendment bills or to debate the reconciliation bills, in order to avoid confrontation. He also urged the prime minister and her Cabinet to issue a decree to end the current parliamentary session, which should have ended in mid-April.

"We call on the government to focus on solving the problems of high prices of consumer products and low prices for farm produce," he said.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she had no problem with the call for an immediate end to the current parliamentary session.

She said the people responsible were assigned to find out whether there were any motion that required urgent attention.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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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.

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