Parliamentary debate on charter amendment continues as opposition MPs use filibuster techniques and government MPs push to hurry the deliberation.
Yesterday was the sixth day of discussion about the second reading of the amendment concerning the election and qualification of senators.
The debate focused on Article 4 of the amendment bill, which will remove clauses in Articles 113 and 114 of the current Constitution in relation to the senators’ selection committee. Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont tried to cut short the opposition Democrat MPs’ objections, saying there was no point in discussing affairs of the selection committee, as every senator would be elected.
He also refused to give Democrat MP Siriwan Prasjaksattru and appointed Senator Prasong Nurack a chance to speak even though they were next in queue, much to the chagrin of the Democrats. He then called for a break.
Somsak later allowed the debate to continue.
Opposition chief whip Jurin Laksanawisit hit back at Somsak’s actions, saying the Democrats had every right to debate the issue as the 2007 Constitution’s Article 240, listing the mission of the senator selection committee, said that a replacement should be selected if an appointed senator’s seat was empty.
Vetting committee chairman Samart Kaewmeechai explained that in the latter part of the charter amendment bill, it says that the current appointed senators will be allowed to continue with their job, but if any position becomes vacant, there will be no replacement until the end of the term.
Kamphaeng Phet Senator Krich Atitkaew said yesterday that he was losing patience and was thinking about stepping down as Senate whip because agreements made at the joint whip’s meeting had never been implemented.
Meanwhile, the Democrats voiced dissatisfaction that the government whip had scheduled the charter amendment debate to be continued over the weekend, saying the administration should not try and rush through charter amendments.
The Democrat MP for Trang Satit Wongnongtaey said the government was trying too hard to rush through the charter amendment bill instead of paying attention to solving the people’s problems.
He went on to say that lawmakers usually visited their constituencies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to learn about people’s problems, and that spending these days focusing on a charter amendment that focused on politicians would be selfish.
Meanwhile, government chief whip Aumnuay Khlangpha said the charter amendment debate would continue as scheduled today and tomorrow, with the session starting at 10am. No closing time has been set.
He went on to say that if the deliberation was not completed, more meetings would be scheduled, adding that he had been making compromises for the opposition.
The Senate will call a meeting to decide whether to vote on the fiscal 2014 Budget Bill after representatives of 22 Senate committees complete their debates on Monday and Tuesday.
After spending all day debating the subject, the lawmakers voted 332:108 in favour of Article 4 of the amendment. They will be resuming the meeting on Wednesday and not over the weekend as planned earlier.