PM agrees with proposal to set up 34-member panel on charter amendment


BANGKOK, Jan 8 – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday said she agrees with the charter amendment, as it is one of the government’s policies, adding that the proposal to set up a panel of 34 experts to do the job by Independent National Rule of Law Commission (NRLC) is a “good idea.”

The premier made her stance following criticism after the NRLC chief Ukrit Mongkolnavin proposed the government appoint a 34-member panel to amend the Constitution, instead of setting up a Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) to do the task.

Ms Yingluck said she has not seen the official proposal yet but acknowledged she knew of the matter through the media.

Personally, I think Mr Ukrit proposal is a good one and am ready to look through the details,” stated the prime minister.

The premier however said the establishment of the CDA is also a good approach as it allows for public participation in the drafting, saying she wants to see engagement from both sides — public and experts.

Ms Yingluck called on all parties to maintain open minds and to implement the advantages of all approaches to the charter amendment.

“Today, the standpoint of the government and myself is that we agree to proceed with the charter amendment as it is part of the government’s policy plan,” reaffirmed the premier.  “[I] want a charter amendment which originates from real participation of the people and is accepted, but regarding how, we will discuss about it again.”

Ms Yingluck noted that she wants place priority on solving economic problems, not on the amendment of the Constitution.

Meanwhile Opposition and Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva urged the NRLC to withdraw its proposal on setting up a 34-member panel, as it is incoherent with the government’s policy, where it reiterated to the parliament that the charter amendment will be conducted by the Constitution Drafting Assembly with public participation.

Mr Abhisit said that a meeting of political party leaders earlier agreed that the charter amendment can be done if it improves the country’s system, but they still need to look closely through the details of the approach and the objectives of the move.

“The prime minister should speak and act clearly to avoid public confusion,” urged the opposition leader.  “The problem is that the government keeps talking about national reconciliation, but the head of this administration has not given any serious signs which will lead to reconciliation.”