The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) is expected to vote in support of a question to be added in a national referendum that could support the powers of an appointed Senate to select a prime minister.
An appointed Senate during a five-year post-election transitional period, pushed by the military regime, is a last-minute change made to the draft charter. It is seen by critics as a means during the first five years to control elected representatives.
The NLA is scheduled to consider the referendum question Thursday.
NLA member Kittisak Rattanavaraha said based on an internal poll of the NLA, around 140 NLA members (about 60%) are in favour of adding the question of whether parliament, in which the selected Senate is seen to be under control of the regime, should vote to elect the prime minister during the transitional period.
He said the findings were based on an internal survey through the Line chat application.
Mr Kittisak said the question should have one focus otherwise it will contravene the interim charter which allows only a single question to be asked at the planned referendum.
“If we also include ‘Should the Senate vote in a no-confidence debate?’ in the questions, it could be considered as two questions,” he said.
An NLA source said NLA whips have agreed the extra question which could be asked at a charter referendum scheduled to take place in early August, should be the one suggested by the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), which is whether an appointed Senate should be allowed to select the prime minister during the post-election transitional period.
The content is seen as a challenge to the Constitution Drafting Committee’s (CDC) charter draft which gives this mandate to the House of Representatives.
Politicians and pro-democracy activists are strongly opposed to the Senate selecting a prime minister.
However, other NLA members on Thursday will propose different questions for the chamber to consider, the source said.
The source said other possible questions include whether parliament should have a mandate to appoint or impeach cabinet members and whether parliament should have the powers to supervise an elected government.
NLA members who are expected to propose different questions include Gen Somjet Boonthanom, Gen Singsuek Singphrai, Adm Chumnoom Artwong, and Wanlop Tangkhananurak.
Mr Wanlop said he will Thursday propose including a question of whether both the lower and upper houses should vote in a no-confidence motion against cabinet ministers accused of graft and corruption.
He said senators should be able to join the House of Representatives in voting on a censure motion, but they should not be empowered to initiate a no-confidence vote.
NLA vice-president Surachai Liangboonlertchai admitted Wednesday that NLA members are divided over the wording and will meet Thursday to finalise the referendum question.
NLA whip Adm Yutthana Fakpholngam said it is up to the NLA to vote on what the questions should be and insisted there is no “prescription from the military regime”.
Meanwhile, NLA whip spokesman Jate Siratharanont said the NLA on Thursday will scrutinise the referendum bill in its second and final reading.
The draft law bans people from disseminating any texts, pictures or voice messages via any media that are false, aggressive, rude, inflammatory or coercive in order to persuade eligible voters not to vote, to vote in a particular way or to choose the no-vote option in the referendum.
A jail term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and suspended electoral rights would be imposed on people found guilty of having manipulated the Aug 7 vote, Mr Jate said.
The bill recommends the courts suspend the electoral rights of violators for up to five years. For a group of five or more violators, the suspension could be for up to 10 years, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said Wednesday the government would decide without delay what steps would be taken if the charter fails to pass at the referendum. In that case the interim charter would be amended to address the issue.