BANGKOK — An activist group submitted 50,000 signatures to the House Speaker today in a bid to rewrite the junta-backed constitution.
The petition, organized by the 24 June Group for Democracy, called for amendments that would include doing away with the Senate altogether.
Group leader Somyot Prueksakasemsuk says the military is currently using the upper house as a proxy to interfere with the elected lower house. He believes 500 MPs are enough to act as a check and balance on each other, making the Senate redundant.
“500 MPs are already sufficient to function as the legislative branch,” Somyot said at Parliament.
The 50,000 signatures gathered by Somyot are required by law to kick off legislative amendments.
But another activist has called for an even more radical approach: showing up naked in front of Parliament. Sombat Boonngamanong, who’s well known for tongue-in-cheek protests and political stunts, said he wants as many volunteers as possible for the naked rally.
“I propose Operation Strip Down to Strip Apart the Constitution,” Sombat wrote online. “I will collect as many volunteers as possible, and then submit a petition to amend the constitution at Parliament while everyone is naked.”
He added, “Dear friends, do you think it will be enough to make waves?”
The opposition bloc has long called for amendments to the 2017 constitution, which was drafted by junta-appointed lawmakers and later approved in a referendum. Critics say the charter was designed to weaken democratic institutions through the introduction of an unelected Senate and a committee to implement the junta’s so-called 20-year plan.
Meanwhile, representatives of opposition parties will meet on Friday to discuss ways to either amend or draft a new charter, Prachachart Party sec-gen Thawee Sodsong said.
Thawee was speaking as part of a panel on charter amendment with other activists. But Jon Ungpakorn, who leads the legal monitoring group iLaw, warned that the effort won’t be easy.
Amendments will require the approval of at least one-third of the Senate, which was almost entirely appointed by then junta-leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Jon said.
“I hope the demand will not lead to a loss of lives,” Jon said, referring to the deeply divided nature of Thai politics.
Additional writing Teeranai Charuvastra