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February 2016 : NLA Approved 5 Constitutional Principles

  • NLA approved 5 principles in the draft constitution
  • Kamnan-Village Heads concern on the draft constitution
  • EC proposed 6 comments to CDC
  • Political Council disagree on 3 principles in the draft constitution
  • NRSA : National Strategy SHOUD revise every 5 years
  • More 2 billion baht allocated to relief drought
  • 2013-2014 political unrest victims register for compensations
  • Supreme Court upheld verdict on election fraud
  • NLA approved 56 billion baht central budget
  • Personal income tax reduction extends 1 year
  • Appeal Court uphold verdict on small political party hiring

    NLA approved 5 principles in the draft constitution

    On 12th February the National Legislation Assembly (NLA) read the Ordinary Committees study on the draft constitution and unanimously approved on 5 principles with 160 votes to nil and 2 abstained, as follow:
    1. The House of Representatives members: comprises of constituency and party list MPs, one or more representatives from a constituency, party list MPs calculates from mixed proportion method.
    2. The Senate members: total 200, select from professional and societal groups by a selection committee.
    3. Oppose: political party to nominate a maximum of 3 candidates for prime minister.
    4. To designate a mechanism to resolve political deadlock or find solutions whenever crisis occurs. This mechanism could be the parliament and the senate or a committee comprises of the head judge of the Constitutional Court and the military and police chiefs, presidents of the constitutional independent agencies, the defense ministry permanent secretary and any person designated in the constitution; when the parliament is non-function or dissolved.
    5. To reinstall section 7 in Chapter 1: the General Provisions, the states duty is to support, promote and protect the citizens rights which includes the right to charge the state, mandate national strategic plan.

    The NLA also commented on the appropriation of a minimum period, 90 days after resign, for members of the NCPO, cabinet, NLA and NRC before running an election or senate selection.

    Kamnan-Village Heads concern on the draft constitution

    On 17th February, more than 100 members of the Kamnan and Village Heads Association of Thailand submitted a comment to the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) requesting identification on the local administrative functions. They cited every province has its development plan and budgeting, therefore, the local administration should be clear cut in regards to the Kamnan and Village Heads function.

    The CDC explained Section 72 of the draft constitution specifies the State entitles to administer and provide public services efficiently, fastly and without discrimination. This applies to both central and regional administration functions.

    EC proposed 6 comments to CDC

    On 9th February, the Election Commission (EC) resolved to propose recommendations to the Constitution Drafting Committee as follow:
    1. To empower the EC to hold a new election in the troublesome constituency.
    2. To empower the EC to order officers to terminate their actions or leave the election constituency if the EC considers such the actions cause preferences or benefits to the candidate.
    3. To reinstate the ECs authority to make a final decision when legal controversy arises.
    4. To allow for any form of election in the future by adding a clause to Section 80.
    5. To specify that by-election could be held only if the parliamentary term exceeds 180 days.
    6. To empower the EC to call for new election and cancel the elections right starting before the elections result announces until 1 year after announced.

    Other points are the ECs authority to summon a person or persons to give verbal and written information and be able to record voices and videos during the investigations. Moreover, the election fraud trial should base on the ECs investigation reports and the EC should be able to demand for compensation for organizing new election resulting from election fraud before the trial ends.

    Political Council disagreed with 3 principles

    The Political Council (PC) revealed their opinions on the draft constitution on 2 mains issues. First, the peoples rights and liberties should not be less that specified in the 1997 and 2007 Constitutions.

    Second, they disagree with the one ballot system for both the constituency and party list candidates reasoning it is against the election principle and will, and international norm.

    The PC prefer senate election to selection from different societal groups. They disagreed with the shifting of the Kings power, specified in Section 7 of the 2007 Constitution, to the Constitutional Court and oppose the principles of constitutional amendment particularly on the requirement of consent from more than 10 percent of the members of the House of Representatives.

    The PC will submit these comments to the CDC on 15th February.

    NRSA: National strategy SHOULD revise every 5 years

    On 24th February, the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) announced they had read of the national strategy and made minor changes on the national strategic plan by replacing the word SHOULD to COULD so it would be regularly updated every 5 years. More further, the Office of the National Strategic Committee should be an entity and free from political influence.

    However, the NRSA revision is not final since the cabinet and the National Legislation Assembly are entitled to amend the law.

    More 2 billion baht allocated to relief drought

    On 23rd February, the cabinet allocated another Baht 2,967.41 to ease agricultural households in 77 provinces affected by drought.

    Supreme Court upheld verdict on election fraud

    On 26th February, the Supreme Court upheld the Appeal Courts decision to recall salaries and other benefits from 22 former Phue Thai and Democrat MPs, received in 2001, with 7.5 percent interest. They were accused by the Office of the Secretariat of the House of Representatives on violating Article 44 and 45 of the Election Act, therefore, their memberships were revoked.

    Political unrest victims to register for compensations

    The Social Development and Welfare Department of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security allowed 888 victims from 2013 to 2014 political unrest to register between February 17 to March 17 at the offices in Bangkok and provinces. 28 were deceased and 840 injured. The cabinet has allocated a 120 million baht for total compensation.

    NLA approved 56 billion baht central budget

    On 18th February, the National Legislative Assembly passed the 2016 Central Budget Bill totaled 56 billion baht in three succeeding votes. The budget was divided into 2 categories; baht 47 billion for state enterprises and other agencies and baht 8.3 billion for remuneration of treasury reserve.

    The government expected to use the income from the 4G telecommunication bidding for this expenditures.

    Personal income tax reduction extended

    On 24th February, the reduction of personal income tax was extended for another 1 year until the 2017 tax year.

    Appeal Court upheld verdicts on small party hiring

    On 3rd February, the Appeal Court read its verdicts on the 2006 election fraud to dismiss the first offender and upheld 2 to 3 years jail terms, without probation, on the other four. They were charged of hiring a small political party to run the election.

    In 2006, the first offender, former Defense Minister Gen.Thammarak Israngkul na Ayudhya who was then Thai Rak Thai party executive member and the third offender, Pattana Chart Thai party leader, had paid the second offender former election commission officer, 30,000 baht to revise the membership period of the Pattana Chart Thai partys fourth offender, made him eligible to run the election.

    The third and fourth offenders were not presented so the court issued arrest warrants on them.

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