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Abhisit opposed to reinstating 1997 charter

Posted by arnon_k On July - 14 - 2011

The Pheu Thai Party wants the restoration of the 1997 constitution in the hope the change would lead to amnesty for those involved in political offences, outgoing Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Wednesday.

Mr Abhisit was referring to Pheu Thai legal team adviser Manit Jitjanklab’s comments that the party should hold a public referendum to ask voters if they preferred the 2007 or the 1997 constitution.

Mr Manit said he would propose a public referendum at the next Pheu Thai Party meeting.

If the majority in the party agreed with his idea, he could draft the questions for the referendum in five minutes, he said.

Mr Manit said the 2007 charter drafted after the 2006 coup should be amended or replaced, to prevent the Pheu Thai Party from being dissolved.

Mr Abhisit said he did not see any reason to reinstate the 1997 charter because the present constitution can be amended by parliament.

“Why do we have to limit the people’s rights to a certain constitution? Every constitution has its weak and strong points, which can be amended,” he said.

The premier said he thought those who wanted to reinstate the 1997 constitution had only one objective – to eliminate some sections of the 2007 charter to facilitate an amnesty.

He said any attempt to override a court’s verdict would create problems to society.

Since Pheu Thai had received the mandate from the people to implement various policies, it should concentrate on working to meet the people’s expectations, Mr Abhisit said.

He said in a democracy, the legislative, executive and judicial branches keep each other’s power in balance. A decision on a legal offence should be made by the judiciary and should not be overridden by a popular vote, he said.

Democrat chief adviser Chuan Leekpai also voiced a similar opinion when asked earlier to comment on Mr Manit’s idea.

The former prime minister said there should be an independent committee comprising politicians and academics to study and revise the charter.

“I don’t see the constitution as the problem, the problem lies with the people using it,” Mr Chuan said.

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