Charter change up for a vote: Referendum needed, House speakerLegacy

A referendum is required to get voters’ approval before the charter amendment proposals can be considered, according to Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, the House Speaker.

He was responding to questions about a possible special House session for the first reading of the 2025 fiscal year’s budget bill. He added that it remains undetermined if other significant legislation will be discussed during this session.

Parliament is in recess and scheduled to reconvene on July 3. A special session is expected to be called either next month or in June to discuss the 2025 fiscal year budget bill, which is set to commence this October.

However, Wan Muhamad clarified that the charter amendment proposals cannot be subjected to a House debate without a legal referendum asking for the voters’ consent to the drafting of a new charter. The first of such referenda is tentatively scheduled for July.

Wan further elaborated that while the House will accept charter amendment proposals, there is no assurance of them being included in the agenda. The Parliament’s legal office will first scrutinise the content.

“If the House proceeds with the deliberation of the charter amendment proposals and the process is found to go against the Constitutional Court’s ruling, it will be a waste of time.”

The Cabinet had earlier agreed to hold three referenda on adopting a new charter, with the first one likely to occur at the end of July or early August.

This initial referendum will ask voters if they consent to the drafting of a new charter, excluding Chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 1 describes Thailand as a unified, indivisible kingdom with a democratic regime and the King as the head of state. Chapter 2 discusses royal prerogatives.

If the majority consents, the second referendum will ask if Section 256 should be amended to facilitate the drafting of a new charter. Once the new charter is ready, a third referendum will be held, asking voters if they agree to its adoption.

The Move Forward Party (MFP) urged the government to reconsider the first referendum question, citing potential voter confusion due to the involvement of Chapters 1 and 2.

MFP leader Chaithawat Tulathon dismissed allegations that the party is keen on amending these chapters and opposing the proposed referendum question. He clarified that the party is advocating for the principle of complete change if the power belongs to the people.

Pheu Thai list-MP and government whip Chusak Sirinil stated that the government will decide when to initiate the proposed amendments to the Referendum Act 2021. He revealed that the ruling party has already submitted its version to the House.

However, the government’s decision to amend the law could lead to the creation of its own version. The cabinet has also agreed to amend the Referendum Act 2021 to eliminate the double majority rule, which necessitates the participation of over 50% of eligible voters in a referendum.

The story Charter change up for a vote: Referendum needed, House speaker as seen on Thaiger News.

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Author: Mitch Connor