Thailand: Govt U-turns on submitting own charter change bill

  • The government has decided not to present its own version of a charter amendment bill, prompting speculation that it was a ploy to buy time over the contentious issue.
  • Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek on 18 Aug 20 quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as saying that the cabinet will not send its version of the bill and will let coalition parties carry on with the matter themselves.
  • “This will follow legal procedures and feedback will be gathered from the committee [on studying charter amendments] and the public.
  • “Let it be the duty of the House. The cabinet will focus on tackling the economic problems,” Ms Rachada quoted the premier as saying.
  • Gen Prayut insisted on 18 Aug 20 he has not opposed any attempts to amend the charter, saying the issue will be discussed by coalition parties based on the results of the House committee. When the parties reach a conclusion, amendments will begin, the premier said.
  • The government’s latest stand is in contrast to statements made by Gen Prayut on 4 Aug 20. He said then that the government would present its own version of a charter rewrite bill in the next parliamentary session.
  • Jade Donavanik, a legal expert and former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee, told the Bangkok Post that by not submitting its amendment version, the government will allow coalition parties more time to thrash out their differences over charter changes. This could be an excuse to prolong the amendment move in parliament, according to the academic.

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