Charter Bill Passed by Thai Parliament
26 January 2011
A proposed amendment to the Thai constitution involving the endorsement of international agreements has now been passed by the Thai parliament.
Another proposed change regarding the makeup of the lower house is still under consideration.
The first bill being reviewed entails a change to Section 190 of the constitution to provide clarification of which treaties or international agreements have to received approval from the parliament before international negotiations can begin.
The second bill still under debate involves amending Sections 93 to 98 of the constitution to alter the makeup of the lower house to 375 constituency MPs and 125 from the party lists. This amendment is strongly supported by the Democrat Party, and the Democrats’ junior coalition partners favour a 400:100 formula. Currently, the makeup of the lower house is 400:80.
After debating for six hours, members of the two chambers voted 343 to 205 to provide endorsement of the bill to amend Section 190, a change suggested by the joint parliamentary committee. The head of the joint committee stated that one of the major changes to be instituted was the proposal to create a law to govern the category of international treaties and an outline to follow for negotiations.
MPs from the junior coalition parties who, prior to this point, disagreed with the 375:125 ratio stated during the debate that they had reached an agreement to follow the decision made by government whips who in turn resolved to support the Democrats’ proposed formula.
The opposition Puea Thai Party MPs also took the floor to voice their support of the proposed 400:100ratio.
The President of the Parliament, Chai Chidchob, has planned for the final reading of the two proposed bills to take place on Feb 10. If the bills are approved, they would then be made into enforceable laws.
To pass the proposed bills, more than half of the votes for the two houses are needed, totaling at least 313 votes or more.
It was reported that the leader of the coalition Bhumjaithai Party had asked MPs of the party to support the 375:125 formula. This would signal a favoring of the smaller scale constituency system, and also Bhumjaithai’s intention to benefit from the increase in the number of MPs included in the proposed bills.
The coalition Chart Thai Pattana Party was also said to be backing the Democrats’ formula, as it does not want to put too much pressure on the Democrats and thus lead to an impasse in the ruling.