MPs Will Debate Charter Amendments Today – Calls for a General Election

MPs Debate Charter Changes

A report will be debated in the House on Thursday on forging national reconciliation which could partially set the tone for a future constitutional amendment, says a source in the House of Representatives.

The report, prepared by the House Committee on laws, justice and human rights, makes a nine-point recommendation.

The source, who has seen the report, said charter amendment heads the areas where changes are sought.

It said the charter should be rectified or redrafted to give birth to a “People’s Constitution”.

According to the report, the current charter is divisive and catered to the powers of the coup engineer, the National Council for Peace and Order. It has since been inherited by the current government, which aggravates political conflicts.

The source said the report demands the charter be changed immediately with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha spelling out clearly when the amendment process will begin and how long it will take. The premier must also avoid delays in implementing the changes.

The longer amendment is deferred, the harder it will be for social and political conflicts to be solved, the report says. Charter changes must also include input from people across the social strata.

When the amendments are introduced, the report recommends the House be dissolved and a general election called under the new constitutional rules. The work of amending the charter should be left in the hands of a constitution-drafting body representing the people, the report says.

The report’s recommendations, according to political experts, mirror those touted by the opposition in many parts. The main opposition Pheu Thai Party says it has its own charter amendment plan although it will sound out fellow opposition parties on whether they want to combine their versions into a single one.

Early this month, Gen Chan-o-cha announced the government was ready to “cooperate fully” with moves for charter change.

The government will produce its own version of a charter rewrite in the next parliamentary session.

Meanwhile, the reconciliation report also highlighted the need to offer an amnesty to offenders in criminal cases motivated by politics in the past decade.

However, the report said amnesty should not cover corruption cases and criminal charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law.

The report stressed an amnesty was the first step towards building national reconciliation.

The focus is on cases involving conflicting parties in mass protests where the state allegedly violated the rights of individuals and where individuals committed criminal wrongs against other individuals.

Grounds for granting an amnesty are that the offences must have had a political motive, the report said, adding a special law may be issued to deliver the amnesty in the form of either an act or an executive decree.

The report also cited an opinion of red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan who said many people have been dismissive of national reconciliation in the past decade because the proposal has been belittled.