BANGKOK — A parliamentary panel to review amendments to the 2017 Constitution met on Wednesday for the first time. Committee deputy chairman Paiboon Nititawan made an ambitious pledge to finish the task within 30 days.
“We have decided to hold 10 meetings, the one today being the first, so we will get things done on time,” said Paiboon, soon after he was chosen as the second deputy chair of the committee, which is chaired by Phalang Pracharath party list MP Virat Rattanaset.
The remarks came as Move Forward Party spokesman Viroj Lakkana-adisorn expressed concerns on the same day that the committee could end up asking for more time, technically possible for another 60 days in total, to further delay and charter rewrite.
Viroj added that the Parliament could also delay submitting the matter to a debate for yet another 12 months if they wanted to.
Committee deputy chairman Paiboon said the committee will invite some opposition MPs to discuss the six proposed versions of charter amendments in the weeks ahead. No names of the invitees have been decided yet.
“We will definitely invite them to clarify,” said Paiboon.
Opposition MPs walked out last Thursday evening after MPs and Senators in a parliamentary session decided not to vote on each of the six proposed charter amendments, and voted to create the committee instead.
Viroj said on the phone Wednesday that his party will have nothing to do with the new committee and not meet them even if invited.
“We will probably not negotiate or bargain with them,” said Viroj, adding that the party’s stance is for a vote to take place on the various proposed charter amendments as originally planned for last week.
Yingcheep Atchanont, program manager of iLaw, a legal reform advocacy group, which submitted a seventh proposed charter amendment last week, warned any further delay would plunge the political situation into a deeper crisis.
“If the parliamentarians failed to use the mechanisms within the system to address the issue, I would be worried about the political climate,” said Yingcheep.
Paiboon said the proposed charter amendment of iLaw is in the hands of the 31 committee members, but they cannot legally deliberate on that draft, because the 45-day process of vetting the authenticity and eligibility of the 100,732 people who made the proposed amendment is still not finished.
The charter rewrite submitted by iLaw is the only one made through a citizen campaign, and it is regarded as the most radical.
The draft calls for a replacement of the junta-appointed senate with an elected senate, requiring future Prime Minister to be an elected MP, and to remove all current members of the so-called independent organizations under the Constitution because most were indirectly or directly selected by the junta which staged the coup in May 2014.