PM mulls alternative if referendum for charter change fails

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BANGKOK, Dec 26 – The government will seek other means to change certain sections of the constitution if a referendum on charter amendment fails to acquire sufficient votes from the people, according to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  

She said the government will not take it as a failure if supporting votes in the referendum are less than the legally required half of all votes.

“We merely follow the court’s instruction on two options – holding a referendum to seek public consent or amending some sections of the constitution,” she said

She ruled out a report of conflicts among Pheu Thai Party members about the referendum, saying their opinions are different but they don’t have any conflicts.

“The ad hoc committee on referendum must clarify [to the public] and gather feedback from every sector. We need constructive views to find the best solution for the country,” said the premier.

In conducting a referendum, the government needs at least 24 million votes to advocate amending the constitution.

Ms Yingluck said it does not matter if the government gets sufficient votes in favour of the move since the government’s major task is to earn public support in the process of public participation.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said the party’s meeting on Thursday, which was chaired by the prime minister, did not reach a conclusion on the next move concerning the charter change.

The ad hoc committee on referendum was assigned by the meeting to review the issue and submit it to the Pheu Thai conference on Jan 6-7, he said, adding that a tangible direction must be clearly outlined by the middle of next month.

Jurin Laksanavisit, an executive of the opposition Democrat Party, said the government should call off amending the constitution as it will lead to conflicts in Thai society.

If the government insists on carrying on the move, the opposition will oppose within and outside the parliamentary system, he said.