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CDC defends charter summary with week to go

Posted by pakin On August - 1 - 2016

Criticism of pamphlets as propaganda that distorts new charter rejected by drafters.

CHARTER DRAFTERS said yesterday |authorised “simplified summary” booklets do not present distorted information as some |critics have claimed.

Authorities, meanwhile, have stepped up efforts to convince the public not to be |convinced by “false” information in the six days before the referendum.

The summary pamphlets conveying the gist of the draft, published by the Election Commission (EC) last month and distributed to 17 million households nationwide, have been criticised as propaganda that exaggerates the benefits people will receive if the charter is enacted.

The legal watchdog group Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw) blamed the pamphlets not only for alleged exaggerations, but also because they convey additional information not presented in the original version of the draft while omitting controversial points, |especially those regarding newly invented |parliamentary mechanisms.

iLaw published 34 infographics last week explaining its concerns about the pamphlets on its Facebook page, which have received more than 2,300 shares so far.

Those arguments, however, were countered by Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) spokesman Chatchai Na Chiangmai, who told The Nation that the CDC authored the summarised content of the pamphlets with only the intent to simplify complexity of the charter draft. Emphasising that the CDC did not distort the draft’s content by merely “summarising”, Chatchai said extra information needed to be added only to provide a clearer picture of what will happen if the draft is enacted.

Some points in the draft were also omitted because they were “too trivial” for people in general to acknowledge, Chatchai added.

The spokesman said that the CDC would probably not make official remarks on the matter despite the series of allegations about the pamphlets. “If they want to fix it, they should raise their concerns to us. Speaking elsewhere doesn’t help,” Chatchai said.

“Pamphlets for people to study”

Meanwhile, government Spokesperson Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said people should stick to EC-organised platforms to obtain knowledge about the charter draft, including the EC’s website, mobile application and the pamphlets.

“People, as holders of rights [to vote], should get to understand the draft by themselves,” Sansern said. “They should not believe politicians or ill-intentioned people who keep distorting facts and creating misunderstanding.”

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has also urged provincial order centres to closely monitor the situation during last stretch before the referendum, Sansern added.

EC member Somchai Srisutthiyakorn reiterated rules that apply to the run-up to the referendum, including that polling must not be conducted starting today at 4pm until August 7.

Surveys conducted and published earlier can be shared online but pollsters are not allowed to redistribute the results.

At social gatherings, people should not try to persuade others to vote in a particular way, he said, while social events held from 6pm on next Sunday to Monday must not serve alcoholic drinks.

Meanwhile, across the country, various activities focused on the final week ahead of the vote.

Pumsan Seniwong na Ayuthaya, Democrat Party chairman of the strategic committee on special activities for the Northeastern region, urged people to exercise their consciences before deciding whether to accept or reject the draft.

He said he did not question the Democrat Party’s decision to reject the draft on the grounds of democratic principles but he did not want the referendum to cause divisions between people who work together to protect the country. “We should give respect to one another. Do not forget about reform and the country’s enemy,” he said.

In Lop Buri more than 300 Thai students rallied in Kok Samrong district to urge people to cast ballots in the referendum.

In one example in Songkhla, a retired teacher took part in the referendum campaign by riding pillion on a modified motorcycle to encourage voters to cast their ballots.

Alert in the South

Meanwhile, security officials yesterday warned people in the deep South of car bomb attacks during the last week ahead of the referendum.

Colonel Therdsak Ngamsanong, deputy commander of the Yala Special Task Force, said people could cast their ballots in safety because officials would be united to keep the deep South peaceful and orderly.

He admitted that language barriers made it difficult for people to understand the charter draft but he hoped that draft specialists would explain to voters how to cast their ballots.

Therdsak added that the driver of a pick-up truck that was stolen in Yala, which authorities suspected could be used in a car bomb attack, had escaped along a route towards Krong Pinang district in Yala.

He said the perpetrator might wait until authorities stop searching for the |vehicle before modifying it and committing a crime.

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