2007 Constitution of Thailand - Criticism of The Drafting Process

Criticism of The Drafting Process

The drafting process met harsh public criticism. Key concerns included:

  • The lack of controls for the drafting of a permanent constitution. Under Interim Constitution articles 19 and 21, the CNS would appoint a 2000-member National Assembly which would in 7 days have to select 200 of its members to be candidates for the Constitution Drafting Assembly. Under charter articles 22 and 24, the CNS would select 100 of those candidates for royal appointment to the Assembly; it would also select the Assembly head. The Assembly would then appoint 25 of its members as constitution writers, with the CNS directly appointing 10 writers. This process effectively gave the junta complete control over the permanent constitution.
  • The lack of controls to prevent members of the CNS, its panels, or its committees from running in future elections. Under charter article 30, only the head of the CNS is banned.
  • The use of an old charter if the permanent constitution not completed by a CNS-set deadline. The specific charter to revert to was not specified - the CNS and the Cabinet would choose which of Thailand's 16 previous charters to use. Many critics called for the use of the 1997 Constitution.

Banjerd Singkhaneti, of Thammasat University, noted of the process for drafting a permanent constitution, "I think it will be a mess and the next constitution will be just that." Charoen Khumpeeraparp, of Silpakorn University, criticized the charter for protecting human rights according to commitments made under international treaties, claiming that it would not allow persecution of figures in the deposed government. Charoen claimed that no other countries let international commitments influence their local laws.

However, the draft interim charter did call for one democratic innovation: it required that a permanent constitution would have to be ratified by public referendum. This innovation was suggested in the draft 1974 Constitution, but was rejected by the royally-appointed Constitutional Convention. Nonetheless, the referendum proposal too has been condemned, as if the draft is rejected then under section 32 of the interim charter it is returned to the junta, which will write a constitution of its own in consultation with the Council of Ministers.

Khomsan Phokhong, of Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, demanded greater public participation in the charter-drafting process as well as restrictions against participation by members and affiliates of the Thai Rak Thai party. Somkhid Lertphaithoon, Deputy Rector of Thammasat University, demanded that the junta directly appoint 100 members to the Constitution Drafting Assembly rather than rely on a 2000-member National Assembly. He also called the interim constitution the best of its kind although he was disappointed it did not include a mission statement.

Somchai Siripreechakul, Dean of Law at Chiang Mai University, urged Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to call a general election as soon as possible and hand the task of drafting a charter to the elected parliament.

Among human rights groups, the Hong Kong-based regional body the Asian Human Rights Commission has issued a series of statements condemning the interim charter as a work of "constitutional fiction".

Federation for Democracy chairman Weng Tojirakarn called the new constitution as, "a joke drafted by a council of puppets."

With the draft facing mounting criticism, Premier Surayud promised that if the draft were approved on 19 August, he would hold national elections as early as 25 November 2007 (instead of September, as promised immediately after the coup, or late December, as later promised by the junta).

Read more about this topic:  2007 Constitution Of Thailand

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