Thai lawmakers Set off vote on constitutional amendments

BANGKOK — Scheduled voting by Thai lawmakers about six proposed amendments to the nation’s military-backed constitution has been canceled at the last minute Thursday since Parliament voted rather than establishing a committee to further consider these suggestions.

At least 1,000 protesters pushing for charter reform assembled outside the Parliament building, also so were angered when they discovered the voting may be postponed. They issued three requirements for changes to the charter, such as reform of the monarchy, limits to the forces of their unelected senators, and also the election, not appointment, of any constitutional drafting committee’s members.

Protest leaders threatened that they’d hold another rally in October when their needs aren’t fulfilled by Sept. 30.

“The people have come here to demonstrate their power in the front of this Parliament,” said protester Nawat Yamwattana. “The members of Parliament and senators have to hear the public’s voices”

Reform of this constitution is a significant requirement of this expanding student-led anti-government motion that held a massive rally last weekend at the Thai capital. Their other center requirements are for brand new election end to intimidation of political activists, stating they are required to strengthen democracy.

The government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha had signaled that it also supports some type of reform, clearly to support the protesters and purchase some time against potential confrontations.

But, Thai media reports this week suggested that no suggested amendment was anticipated to be passed due to inadequate support in the Senate, whose members are usually very conservative and hostile to the protesters.

Since voting on the changes is conducted by a joint sitting of the houses, for any movement to pass it requires assistance from a third of their 250 senators.

The joint vote from the members of the Lower House and Senate had been 431 in favor of preparing the committee and 255 opposed, with 28 abstentions and one vote not throw.

The protests of the past couple of months have come as Prayuth’s government faces wider criticism it is ineffective and with no management as the market sputters as a result of impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prayuth directed that coup, led the military authorities, and was appointed prime minister after a year’s general election, held under the rules laid out from the charter.

The ministry’s critics say its principal aim was to procure the gripping power of the nation’s traditional ruling elite — royalists, unelected bureaucrats, and the army — by dividing political parties.

While there is growing agreement that changes to the constitution are required, there is broad divergence over what these changes ought to be.

Key sections in dispute include the transparency and position of the monarchy — that protesters wish to view redefined — as well as the function and powers of this unelected Senate.

The Senate’s appointed members have been viewed as hardcore defenders of the status quo, aligned with the current government, and heavily affected by the army. Most controversially, they’re permitted to vote at the choice of a prime minister, a supply critics slam as basically anti-democratic.

There were six suggestions for charter change: 1 from Prayuth’s governing coalition and five out of the resistance.

The 1 point either side affirmed was amending Section 256, which will set a Constitution Drafting Assembly to write a new charter from scratch. That process may take as long as 2 years to finish.

Thailand, which has undergone over a dozen coups, has experienced 20 constitutions because of the conclusion of rule by kings in 1932.