Thais de­bate a new con­sti­tu­tion meant to end po­lit­i­cal tur­moil

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

De­lib­er­a­tions be­gan Mon­day on a new Thai con­sti­tu­tion, which in­cludes clauses to stop par­ties win­ning a ma­jor­ity and al­lows un­elected of­fi­cials to gov­ern, in a bid by the Thai junta to end a neardecade of po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

How­ever, the char­ter is widely seen as an as­sault on the elec­toral suc­cess of the for­mer rul­ing Shi­nawa­tra clan.

Par­ties led- by or aligned- to Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra’s bil­lion­aire fam­ily have won ev­ery elec­tion since 2001, prompt­ing two coups backed by the roy­al­ist estab­lish­ment and nearly a decade of ac­ri­mony that has fre­quently spilled into vi­o­lence.

On Mon­day the junta-ap­pointed Na­tional Re­form Coun­cil (NRC) be­gan a week of dis­cus­sion on the draft char­ter, a process which could see the doc­u­ment re­ceive royal en­dorse­ment by Septem­ber.

Thai­land’s con­sti­tu­tion has un­der­gone more than a dozen rewrites since the end of ab­so­lute monar­chy in 1932.

The lead­ers of last May’s coup say an­other new char­ter is needed to soothe Thai­land’s caus­tic divides ahead of fresh elec­tions slated for next year.

On Mon­day, Bor­worn­sak Uwanno, chair­man of the Con­sti­tu­tion Draft­ing Com­mit­tee (CDC), said the new char­ter “will not al­low a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment which can be­come a par­lia­men­tary dic­ta­tor­ship.”

Speak­ing in the tele­vised de­bate he de­nied it was “a blue­print” to end the dom­i­na­tion of the Shi­nawa­tras, but would in­stead em­power the Thai peo­ple at the ex­pense of politi­cians.

Un­der the draft, fu­ture elec­tions will be de­cided by a pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tem sim­i­lar to Ger­many’s that will fa­vor smaller par­ties and coali­tion gov­ern­ments.

But to avoid leg­isla­tive paral­y­sis un­der coali­tions, prime min­is­ters will not have to be di­rectly elected by the public.

Law­mak­ers will also be barred from be­com­ing min­is­ters “so that they can not use that power to un­duly in­flu­ence the gov­ern­ment,” Bor­worn­sak added, rais­ing the prospect of un­elected of­fi­cials run­ning the gov­ern­ment.

An­a­lysts have said the draft is not truly demo­cratic and harks back to an era when a roy­al­ist and mil­i­tary elite had a stran­gle­hold on pol­i­tics.

That grip has been threat­ened by the rise of the Shi­nawa­tras, who draw on the sup­port of the north­ern por­tion of the coun­try, which is poorer than the south and his­tor­i­cally re­ceives a smaller share of state cash from Bangkok.

Their sup­port­ers say the fam­ily rec­og­nized their chang­ing po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions with sub­si­dies for farm­ers and other pro-poor poli­cies such as vir­tu­ally free health­care and mi­cro loans.

But their enemies, prin­ci­pally among the Bangkok elite, mil­i­tary and roy­al­ist south­ern­ers, have jus­ti­fied army power grabs by say­ing the fam­ily has poi­soned Thai­land with pop­ulist poli­cies, crony­ism and lead the poor astray.

The elite’s main party, the Democrats, have failed to win a popular vote in nearly 20 years.

The NRC — which is made of ex­perts, aca­demics and some for­mer politi­cians — has 30 days to rec­om­mend ma­jor amend­ments to the draft.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.