PM frets over vote turnout; Govt may become lenient on migrants


BANGKOK,  Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has voiced concern that the voter turnout for a referendum on charter amendment risks failing to reach the required total.

Nevertheless, she said a conclusion must be reached on the charter rewrite regardless of the turnout. Concerning comments made by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who voiced opposition to a referendum, Ms. Yingluck said the deputy premier is entitled to express his opinions.

The prime minister also said the cabinet has assigned a working panel to determine how best to proceed with charter amendment. The panel will look into both the benefits of holding public hearings and staging a referendum.

She said the government’s task is to encourage the public to participate in the charter amendment process in order to find a peaceful solution to political conflict, while it was the duty of parliament to amend the constitution. The proposed referendum question is to ask the public whether or not it “likes” the proposal to rewrite the constitution in its entirety.

Former charter writer Seri Suwanpanont has said the phrasing of the question is confusing, adding that the term “approve” should be used instead.

The Ministry of Labour will be asking the Cabinet to give employers another three months before making migrant workers part of the legal system.

Permanent secretary of Labour, Somkiat Chayasriwong, disclosed the measure yesterday after emerging from a meeting with representatives of the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

These representatives expressed concerns about labour shortage if the government went ahead with deporting more than 300-thousand foreign workers who failed to get their nationality verified by the 14th of this month.

Somkiat said the ministry now planned to ask the Cabinet to be lenient and give employers three more months to complete the process of registration and nationality verification for their migrant workers.