Government U-turn on Charter Amendment Bill Angers Opposition

Rachada Dhnadirek - Deputy Government Spokeswoman

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.

Yesterday, Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek 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 Dhnadirek quoted the PM as saying.

Gen Chan-o-cha insisted on Tuesday 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 PM said.

The government’s latest stand is in contrast to statements made by Gen Chan-o-cha on 4th August. He said then that the government would present its own version of a charter rewrite bill in the next parliamentary session.

The premier’s move came amid mounting calls for charter changes, particularly from the opposition and student activists.

Jade Donavanik, a legal expert and former adviser to the Constitution Drafting Committee, told the media 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.

The chief opposition whip Sutin Klungsang was not happy with the government’s u-turn.

“When the government refuses to play host to charter change, then we cannot be sure that we can amend the constitution. This shows that the government is being insincere,” said Mr Klungsang, who is from the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.

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