3 Charter amendment bills sail through Thai Parliament

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BANGKOK, April 4 – Thailand’s joint parliament session voted early Thursday morning to pass three government-sponsored bills to amend many sections of the country’s Constitution.

All three bills were approved in the first reading after which a 45-member committee was set up to deliberate the second reading within 15 days. The bills must be resubmitted to Parliament for the third reading or final approval.

The first bill seeks to rewrite sections 111, 112, 115, 117, 118, 120 and 241, and abolish sections 113 and 114. The major principle was to call for an election of all senators instead of the present system of appointees. The bill was passed with 367 to 204 votes and 34 abstentions.

The second bill to amend Section 190 involves the state’s agreements with other countries and international organisations. It sailed through with 374 against 209 votes and 22 abstentions.

The highly-criticised third bill favours amendments of Sections 69 and part of Section 237.

The rewritten version of Section 68 entitles the Office of the Attorney-General to initially examine complaints deemed detrimental to the constitutional monarchy, while Section 237 relaxes the rules on a party’s dissolution or banning of party executives due to violations of the election law by party candidates.

The bill was approved with 374 to 206 votes and 25 abstentions.

The three bills were nodded after three days of heated debate amid a petition by a group of 40 Senators, seeking an injunction by the Constitution Court.

The court on Wednesday accepted the petition but did not give its ruling, pending further consideration and decision.