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Luang Pu calls for new body to police MPs

Posted by pakin On November - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Monk’s reform plans aim to protect morality

Activist monk Phra Buddha Isra, also known as Luang Pu, yesterday proposed the establishment of a national body to regulate the ethical conduct of politicians at all levels.

Speaking after a meeting with National Legislative Assembly (NLA) president Pornpetch Wichitcholachai, the monk said he had asked the assembly to draft a bill allowing for a new national institute to govern politicians.

He said he also asked the NLA to amend the law to drop the 20-year statute of limitations on all corruption cases and suggested that politicians accused of graft should be suspended.

Phra Buddha Isra is the abbot of Wat Or Noi in Nakhon Pathom. Aside from meeting the NLA, he was yesterday invited to give his recommendations on national reform to Thienchay Kiranandana, chairman of the National Reform Council (NRC) and his deputy Borwornsak Uwanno, who is also chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC).

The monk proposed the establishment of three further councils — a national morality council, a national farming council and a national energy council.

He also forwarded a 90-point proposal on energy reform to the NRC and CDC for consideration. The proposal was drawn up after public forums between civil society groups and the Energy Ministry.

Phra Buddha Isra meanwhile criticised any political party that refuses to take part in the charter drafting process and called for the lifting of martial law to allow those involved in politics to hold meetings discussing the charter. He also voiced support for a national referendum on the constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam yesterday called on political parties to seek permission from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) if they want to hold meetings to debate reform proposals and the content of the new charter.

His remarks came after politicians called for the NCPO to ease its ban on public gatherings to allow political parties to debate ideas for the new constitution.

He said he believes the NCPO will ease the restrictions if parties inform the council of their plans to hold meetings.

Mr Wissanu also brushed aside concerns that the CDC might ignore the views of outsiders, denying accusations that the move to invite input from various political groups was a ploy to give the charter-drafting process legitimacy.

“The CDC has good intentions. It wants to hear views from political parties and other groups and believes that will be useful in drafting the charter,” he said. “I think political parties should participate. If they don’t want to meet the CDC, they can submit their opinions in writing. It would be a pity to let the opportunity slip.”

Meanwhile, NCPO spokesman Winthai Suwaree said political parties may ask for permission to conduct activities to brainstorm ideas for the new constitution.

He said the NCPO will consider requests on a case-by-case basis and will likely allow activities that have no hidden political agenda, do not breach national security guidelines and are deemed to be in the best interests of the nation.

Pheu Thai’s acting deputy leader Plodprasop Suraswadi yesterday said the party is currently unlikely to join activities relating to the coup-sponsored government.

He said its members would only offer broad suggestions or ideas if it chose to give input at all.

However, the party would have to hold a meeting to decide on the matter, which is currently impossible due to the NCPO’s ban, he said.

Deputy PM insists charter ‘not a script’

Posted by pakin On November - 6 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Public referendum not needed, says Wissanu

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam denied rumours Wednesday that charter drafters would draw up a new charter based on a “prepared script”.

“That is not true. The country has seen a number of charter drafting processes. And every time a process is about to begin, there will be speculation like this. There is no prepared draft. The process is being closely watched by the whole country,” he said.

Mr Wissanu said he did not consider a public referendum a necessary step in the writing and endorsing process.

Some believe that without a referendum the draft charter may not truly belong to the public and may in fact reflect the coup-makers’ agenda.

The deputy prime minister said a referendum is often cited in modern-day politics to justify “public participation”. He said it is more important to engage the people by calling on those representing various sectors to give their views rather than the public at large.

He also said the cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) are expected to appoint a panel to monitor the work of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC).

The panel will help the government and the NCPO, which are required by the interim charter to study the draft, he said.

The members of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) led by Borwornsak Uwanno Wednesday took a vow to perform their duties with honesty and impartiality in the best interests of the people.

They made their vow as they paid their respects to the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram and the City Shrine.

After that they went to parliament for an unofficial meeting to get to know each other. Two CDC members did not attend as they were abroad. (Story continues below)

Mr Borwornsak called on the public and political parties to take part in the drafting process by forwarding their opinions to the CDC and an NRC committee on public participation.

He said the CDC members had made an initial agreement on division of work and how to complete its task.

Six deputies will be appointed and the working panels of the CDC will be divided into two groups. One will be involved in the drafting process and the other with the content, he said.

However, this is just a proposal and the details will be finalised at today’s official meeting. He said he did not mind if reporters sat in during CDC meetings but they would have to understand that some issues could not leave the room.

Also on Wednesday, charter drafters reaffirmed the public would not be left out of the charter drafting process. Kamnoon Sidhisamarn said public input would be gathered to ensure a draft charter, which is expected to take shape in April next year, reflects the views of the people.

He said the gathering of public opinions would go hand in hand with the drafting process due to the tight time-frame. He said the content of the constitution would be based partly on previous charters, especially the 1997 and 2007 versions and the current interim charter.

Mr Kamnoon said all 36 CDC members should make it clear when they are voicing personal opinions about the draft charter to avoid creating confusion. Their personal views could be misunderstood as the CDC’s proposals.

NRC electing charter drafting members

Posted by pakin On October - 29 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

The National Reform Council will elect on Wednesday 20 members to fill its quota in the Constitution Drafting Committee while another five will be elected by lawmakers the next day.

Thirty-four NRC members applied to join the committee, covering all 11 reform areas and geographical regions.

After checking the qualifications, the NRC found two did not meet the requirements, leaving 32 to run in the race.

They will show their visions ahead of the confidential vote expected to take three hours, said Alongkorn Ponlaboot, an NRC whip and former Democrat MP.

The members were asked to take into consideration diversity in the 11 reform areas and regions but there is no guarantee the elected members will cover all reform areas or regions, he said.

On the concern the committee may lack expertise on constitution drafting, Mr Alongkorn said he personally thought other members could later be appointed as advisers to the committee.

Besides, he said, once the cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order received the list of elected members from the NRC, they could complement the line-up with specialists such as those on public law.

The 36-member Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) will come from the NRC (20), the National Legislative Assembly (5), cabinet (5) and the NCPO (5 plus the CDC chairman).

As for the 5-man quota of the NLA, president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said on Wednesday 11 had applied to be CDC members.

The NLA will vote on Thursday to elect the five, who will retain their role in the NLA and may not hold political positions for two years after they are relieved from CDC duties.

New top brass ‘loyal to’ govt, NCPO

Posted by pakin On October - 21 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Worapong urges unity leading up to election

New armed forces commanders have pledged their allegiance to the government and the National Council for Peace and Order under the helm of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Supreme Commander Worapong Sanga-net Monday led the military top brass and the national police chief to announce their stance after chairing the first meeting of the new armed forces chiefs.

“We not only give our support and encouragement to the prime minister, but we will also translate his orders into actions. We will do our best,” Gen Worapong said.

Attending the meeting were army chief Udomdej Sitabutr, navy chief Kraisorn Chansuwanich, air force chief Treetos Sonjaeng and national police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang. All of them are also NCPO members.

Gen Worapong said all sectors of society, not only the armed forces, have to perform their duties to their fullest capacity.

“The armed forces are not on the top [of the power structure], but in the middle. Thus, deputy prime ministers and cabinet ministers have to work together to achieve the goal of a general election. Hundreds of jigsaws pieces will not give the picture we want if placed improperly,” said Gen Worapong.

The government’s reform plan covers 11 areas and if these come to fruit he believed there would be no more coups in the future, the supreme commander said.

He brushed aside sources of resistance against the NCPO and the government, saying they came from only a small number of people.

Asked about the large turn out of red-shirt members at the cremation ceremony of ex-deputy House speaker and former core red-shirt member Apiwan Wiriyachai at Wat Bang Phai in Nonthaburi on Sunday, Gen Worapong said the large crowd was expected as many people knew Col Apiwan.

Gen Worapong also denied suggestions the United States may scale down next year’s Cobra Gold military exercise.