Pheu Thai urges haste on its bill

12-Apr-2021 Intellasia | BangkokPost | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The main opposition Pheu Thai Party is calling on the public to pressure the government and the Senate to push through the referendum bill that remains stalled in parliament.

Chief opposition whip and Pheu Thai deputy leader Sutin Klungsang said on Saturday the postponement of an extraordinary parliament session to deliberate the bill has affected progress. The bill include proposed changes to Section 256 of the constitution to pave the way for a charter drafting assembly to be set up, Sutin said.

Parliament president Chuan Leekpai on Thursday decided to adjourn the session after several lawmakers were absent due to the latest Covid-19 outbreak. The meeting was scheduled for April 7-8 to debate the referendum bill which is now at the second reading stage. The number of lawmakers attending was low apparently due to Covid-19 concerns.

Sutin said the opposition finds it difficult to push for any legislation because it does not command a majority. “Therefore, it wants to urge the public to pressure the government and senators to expedite deliberation of the bill so the opposition can table a charter amendment bill in parliament,” Sutin said.

He cited a Constitutional Court ruling that an amendment to Section 256 of the constitution would involve replacing the current charter, in which case a referendum before and after the charter is rewritten would be required.

Pheu Thai MP Yutthapong Charassathien said the session was postponed because senators wanted to delay the charter amendment process. “Senators do not want the charter to be amended because they fear losing power. prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha must take responsibility because it was he who appointed the senators and he also pledged support for charter amendments. Why did he not ask senators to support it?” Yutthapong said.

Paiboon Nititawan, deputy leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, said a referendum question about whether a charter drafting assembly should be set up may violate the constitution because Section 166 of the charter does not allow questions about individuals and a body of people to be asked in a referendum. The government-sponsored referendum bill passed its first reading in December and is an essential part of the charter amendment process. The second reading was adjourned in March when the panel vetting the bill won a vote on Section 9 to allow both the public and parliament to initiate a referendum.

Under the revised section, when parliament proposes a motion for a referendum to be held or the public launches a petition for a referendum, the parliament president must forward the matter to the cabinet.


Category: Thailand

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