On October 1st 2013, Dr. Weng Tojilakarn, Pheu Thai party list member and co-leader of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), proposed the amendment of Article 309 of the Constitution to the party’s strategic committee and yesterday, October 8th 2013, 115 Pheu Thai MPs signed their approval of the proposition.
According to procedure, the drafted bill can now be forwarded to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Somsak Kiatsuranont, for consideration before it can be proposed in the form of a draft Constitutional Amendment. As cited in Chapter 15 and Article 291 of the Constitution which dictate the procedure for the amendment of the Charter; “an amendment of the Constitution may be made under the rules and procedures as follows:
(1) A motion for amendment must be proposed by the Council of Ministers, members of the House of Representatives of not less than one-fifth of the total number of the existing members of the House of Representatives or members of both Houses of not less than one-fifth of the total number of the existing members thereof or persons having the right to vote of not less than fifty thousand in number under the law on lodging a petition for introducing the law”
Dr. Weng is now preparing to forward the bill to the President of the National Assembly by next week and is determined to rid the Constitution of Article 309 because it is the “enemy” of the democratic system.
Article 309 states that; “all acts recognised in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2549 (2006) as lawful and constitutional, including acts incidental thereto whether performed prior to or subsequent to the date of the promulgation of this Constitution, shall be deemed constitutional under this Constitution.”
“Since this article protects the actions of the coup-makers as “constitutional” under this Constitution, it is effectively the enemy of the democratic system. The act of coup d’état is the nemesis of democracy because its objective is to overthrow a democratic system by force and for this reason, it should be revoked. To guarantee that the 2006 coup d’état is righteous and constitutional “prior to or subsequent to the date of the promulgation of the 2007 Constitution” also mean that this constitution will continue to protect the endless acts of coup in the future and ultimately, it will destroy the entire foundation of Thailand’s democratic system,” said Dr. Weng.
On the matter of constitutional amendments, Assoc. Prof. Tida Tavonseth, President of the UDD, said at the press conference on October 2nd 2013 that the organization, “Would like to congratulate the Members of Parliament and Senators who voted “pass” on the third reading of the amendment bill which dictates the regulation for the selection of Senators. We would also like to show our support for the Prime Minister’s decision to forward the bill for a royal endorsement which is in accord with the guideline of the 2007 Constitution. Despite this preliminary success, the Am-mart regime has persistently continued to block the charter amendment through appointed Senators, the Democrat Party and conservative ground forces that cooperate with independent organizations and judges of the constitutional courts to slow down the amendment process.”
“However, I am happy to say that these efforts of the Am-mart were futile because the representatives of the people, in the legislative and administrative branches, have effectively identified their ploy from the beginning. Our strategy as representative of the people is to amend the 2007 constitution as much as possible because it represents an autocratic trap and a crucial part of the Am-mart’s master plan. This is why the Am-mart is doing everything within their power to make sure that not one article of the Constitution can be changed but by doing so, they are also exposing their weaknesses for everyone to see,” said Mrs. Tida.
“In light of the recent progress, the UDD would like the government to push forward for the amendment of other disputed articles such as Article 68, 190, 237 and 309. Since the only way to amend this Constitution is article by article, we should fix all the questionable ones together. To amend the Constitution article by article is within the legitimate power of the legislative branch. It is not an act of treason; this is not a ploy to overthrow a democratic system but rather a move to strengthen its values because the people have the opportunity to influence the political development of the country,” said the president of the UDD.