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PPP meets to discuss constitution amendments - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Re: PPP meets to discuss constitution amendments

    ANALYSIS
    Electoral politics


    By Nidhi Eoseewong
    It is not a very popular Constitution. That should make it easy for politicians and election specialists to seek to change it, even if their move has no other objective than to save the politicians.

    This is not the first time Thailand is trying to solve its political problems by amending the Constitution. It was the solution of choice when the army had direct control over politics in the past.

    If they had some kind of power over members of parliament, they sought to amend the problematic articles only, or to expand the transitory provisions. If they had no command over parliament, they took care of the matter by staging a coup, then promulgated a charter that was not so problematic or simply drafted a new one. The present Constitution is no exception: it was written to solve an immediate political problem.

    The latest attempt to amend the Constitution is different from those in the past in that it is not an initiative of the military. It is the politicians who want it changed to avoid their own charter-related predicament. And, at least as far as theory goes, they are entitled to seek this constitutional change as they have enough votes in parliament.

    I do not know how the military view the latest attempt by politicians to amend the Constitution. Indeed, I am not even sure if there still is a unified political stance by the military as an institution.

    Viewed in this light, the constitutional amendment initiative is another step forward for the electoral side, in taking over political power and establishing itself as the topmost leader. It also reveals what the face of electoral politics would be like.

    What is noteworthy is that though the current Constitution has been endorsed in a national referendum, it is widely viewed as flawed and deserving of an amendment. During the run-up to the referendum, some of the drafters even asked the public to vote "yes" and then seek to rewrite it later. In short, it is not a very popular Constitution. And that should make it easy for politicians and election specialists to seek to change it, even if the move has no other objective than to save the politicians. The thing is, they should not be seen going about it in a rough and tough way - to have it their way by using the majority vote in parliament. They should build a momentum among the public and put into motion a process of constitutional amendment that is acceptable to society. If they had managed their public relations better - informed the public better of what exactly they want to change and probably compromise a bit to accommodate what others want to change, too - the whole process might have moved forward more smoothly. If they had managed the issue better, they could have masked the brusque side of the electoral politics and prevented it from being displayed as nakedly as it has been.

    Of course, the time constraint is the main thing. Since the pending electoral fraud cases which could lead to their parties being dissolved are forcing their hand, these politicians have no choice but to do what the military did: which is to do the equivalent of a coup in parliament and stage an overwhelming vote for the amendment.

    As I write this article, a certain number of People Power party MPs plan to seek a motion to amend the Constitution. I have no clue if parliament will accept. I am certain, however, that a movement to oppose it will be mobilised in society far and wide.

    The forces to counter the politician-led constitutional amendment process will come from many sectors. Again, I have no clue whether such a widely-ranged civil movement would be strong enough as to halt the charter change.

    But of course, some members of the academia would oppose the change, yet they are not unanimous in their analyses of the problem or prognoses. Some of them agree that the charter should be changed but they wish the process was made fairer and more accountable; for example, to have people from other sectors, apart from politicians, as representatives in a committee to amend the constitution. Others, especially those who took part in drafting the charter, would rather that society continued to use it until they know from experience what its flaws are and then make a prudent decision about it later.

    The group of people that call themselves a "civil society" movement comprising NGOs, activists or community leaders, are likely to move against the charter change as well. Like the academics, they will not let their diverse views torpedo the unified stance. This group should focus on articles concerning the rights and liberties of the public and the ability of public interest groups to censure public office holders. For that reason, their members would naturally be more interested in making the relevant organic laws clearer and more effective when put into practice.

    There is no need to analyse the election specialists from the opposition party. They would seize the opportunity when so many groups have come out to rally against the government, to jump on the bandwagon too. And their mission would be to bring to light how unjustifiable the government's move to amend the charter is.

    Even though there is an effort by the government to strike a compromise with the army - to refrain from investigating the Council for National Security's use of "secret budget", for example - certain military men just cannot accept the return to power of politicians who have come in with the electoral mandate. This faction would then lend support to groups that oppose the government. With its power divided, the army becomes useless as a political tool. It cannot really help any side.

    The same divisiveness marks capitalists as well. Although the Thaksin government is considered one for the globalised capitalists, not all owners of capital in Thailand are globalised ones. In fact, many local businesses lost out due to Thaksin-style globalisation-friendly policies. Quite a few believe the policies were made at their expense. This group of business people would not trust the PPP. Actually, even businesses that used to support the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party would not put their faith in the PPP wholeheartedly. The PPP government is not like the TRT one. It has no business-interest representatives, or their nominees. The power is shared by election specialists both in and outside the clique of the 111 banned TRT functionaries.

    Under the circumstances, some members of the capitalist group would lend their weight to the protest against the charter amendment, while others would opt to appear neutral. At most, they would just express their concern at the still "rippling" politics.

    It's true that the more informed members of the middle-class are probably not ready to take to the streets with the People's Democratic Alliance (PAD).

    The future, however, is not yet certain. A lot depends on how arrogant the government is in its attempt to ward off the opposing side. Nothing is more intolerable to the Thai middle-class than the vulgarity of politicians who were voted into office by members of the lower class. This is because it reminds them that the political power they once enjoyed is slipping out of their hands as the electoral system has come to replace the half-electoral, half-bureaucratic polity system.

    I have no clue as to what will happen during the political upheaval caused by the clash of opinions regarding the constitutional amendment that is to come. One thing I can say, which incidentally echoes Prime Minister's Samak's belief, is that there is not enough incentive for the military to stage another coup now.

    It is worth noting as well that the opposition to the coalition government's charter amendment for self-preservation has no force in the rural areas. It is very much limited as an urban phenomenon. If there really is another general election (after a party dissolution, a coup or other untoward event), all these election specialists we have known so well will return under the banner of any given political party and form a government once again.

    The latest attempt at charter amendment is especially interesting because it is a test of the electoral system's power. If the politicians manage to change it, it shows that Thai politics has become fully electoral. It will also confirm the vulgarity of the regime - a glimpse of which we have had all along.

    If, for some reason, the amendment attempt does not go through, then the newly emerged electoral system and the age-old half-electoral, half-bureaucratic policy one - whose real face has been gradually revealed to be as vulgar - will be stuck in a continued face-off.

    Professor Nidhi Eoseewong is a historian who started the alternative educational forum, the Midnight University.

    Bangkok Post

  2. #12
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    Re: PPP meets to discuss constitution amendments

    ANALYSIS
    Electoral politics


    By Nidhi Eoseewong
    It is not a very popular Constitution. That should make it easy for politicians and election specialists to seek to change it, even if their move has no other objective than to save the politicians.

    This is not the first time Thailand is trying to solve its political problems by amending the Constitution. It was the solution of choice when the army had direct control over politics in the past.

    If they had some kind of power over members of parliament, they sought to amend the problematic articles only, or to expand the transitory provisions. If they had no command over parliament, they took care of the matter by staging a coup, then promulgated a charter that was not so problematic or simply drafted a new one. The present Constitution is no exception: it was written to solve an immediate political problem.

    The latest attempt to amend the Constitution is different from those in the past in that it is not an initiative of the military. It is the politicians who want it changed to avoid their own charter-related predicament. And, at least as far as theory goes, they are entitled to seek this constitutional change as they have enough votes in parliament.

    I do not know how the military view the latest attempt by politicians to amend the Constitution. Indeed, I am not even sure if there still is a unified political stance by the military as an institution.

    Viewed in this light, the constitutional amendment initiative is another step forward for the electoral side, in taking over political power and establishing itself as the topmost leader. It also reveals what the face of electoral politics would be like.

    What is noteworthy is that though the current Constitution has been endorsed in a national referendum, it is widely viewed as flawed and deserving of an amendment. During the run-up to the referendum, some of the drafters even asked the public to vote "yes" and then seek to rewrite it later. In short, it is not a very popular Constitution. And that should make it easy for politicians and election specialists to seek to change it, even if the move has no other objective than to save the politicians. The thing is, they should not be seen going about it in a rough and tough way - to have it their way by using the majority vote in parliament. They should build a momentum among the public and put into motion a process of constitutional amendment that is acceptable to society. If they had managed their public relations better - informed the public better of what exactly they want to change and probably compromise a bit to accommodate what others want to change, too - the whole process might have moved forward more smoothly. If they had managed the issue better, they could have masked the brusque side of the electoral politics and prevented it from being displayed as nakedly as it has been.

    Of course, the time constraint is the main thing. Since the pending electoral fraud cases which could lead to their parties being dissolved are forcing their hand, these politicians have no choice but to do what the military did: which is to do the equivalent of a coup in parliament and stage an overwhelming vote for the amendment.

    As I write this article, a certain number of People Power party MPs plan to seek a motion to amend the Constitution. I have no clue if parliament will accept. I am certain, however, that a movement to oppose it will be mobilised in society far and wide.

    The forces to counter the politician-led constitutional amendment process will come from many sectors. Again, I have no clue whether such a widely-ranged civil movement would be strong enough as to halt the charter change.

    But of course, some members of the academia would oppose the change, yet they are not unanimous in their analyses of the problem or prognoses. Some of them agree that the charter should be changed but they wish the process was made fairer and more accountable; for example, to have people from other sectors, apart from politicians, as representatives in a committee to amend the constitution. Others, especially those who took part in drafting the charter, would rather that society continued to use it until they know from experience what its flaws are and then make a prudent decision about it later.

    The group of people that call themselves a "civil society" movement comprising NGOs, activists or community leaders, are likely to move against the charter change as well. Like the academics, they will not let their diverse views torpedo the unified stance. This group should focus on articles concerning the rights and liberties of the public and the ability of public interest groups to censure public office holders. For that reason, their members would naturally be more interested in making the relevant organic laws clearer and more effective when put into practice.

    There is no need to analyse the election specialists from the opposition party. They would seize the opportunity when so many groups have come out to rally against the government, to jump on the bandwagon too. And their mission would be to bring to light how unjustifiable the government's move to amend the charter is.

    Even though there is an effort by the government to strike a compromise with the army - to refrain from investigating the Council for National Security's use of "secret budget", for example - certain military men just cannot accept the return to power of politicians who have come in with the electoral mandate. This faction would then lend support to groups that oppose the government. With its power divided, the army becomes useless as a political tool. It cannot really help any side.

    The same divisiveness marks capitalists as well. Although the Thaksin government is considered one for the globalised capitalists, not all owners of capital in Thailand are globalised ones. In fact, many local businesses lost out due to Thaksin-style globalisation-friendly policies. Quite a few believe the policies were made at their expense. This group of business people would not trust the PPP. Actually, even businesses that used to support the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai party would not put their faith in the PPP wholeheartedly. The PPP government is not like the TRT one. It has no business-interest representatives, or their nominees. The power is shared by election specialists both in and outside the clique of the 111 banned TRT functionaries.

    Under the circumstances, some members of the capitalist group would lend their weight to the protest against the charter amendment, while others would opt to appear neutral. At most, they would just express their concern at the still "rippling" politics.

    It's true that the more informed members of the middle-class are probably not ready to take to the streets with the People's Democratic Alliance (PAD).

    The future, however, is not yet certain. A lot depends on how arrogant the government is in its attempt to ward off the opposing side. Nothing is more intolerable to the Thai middle-class than the vulgarity of politicians who were voted into office by members of the lower class. This is because it reminds them that the political power they once enjoyed is slipping out of their hands as the electoral system has come to replace the half-electoral, half-bureaucratic polity system.

    I have no clue as to what will happen during the political upheaval caused by the clash of opinions regarding the constitutional amendment that is to come. One thing I can say, which incidentally echoes Prime Minister's Samak's belief, is that there is not enough incentive for the military to stage another coup now.

    It is worth noting as well that the opposition to the coalition government's charter amendment for self-preservation has no force in the rural areas. It is very much limited as an urban phenomenon. If there really is another general election (after a party dissolution, a coup or other untoward event), all these election specialists we have known so well will return under the banner of any given political party and form a government once again.

    The latest attempt at charter amendment is especially interesting because it is a test of the electoral system's power. If the politicians manage to change it, it shows that Thai politics has become fully electoral. It will also confirm the vulgarity of the regime - a glimpse of which we have had all along.

    If, for some reason, the amendment attempt does not go through, then the newly emerged electoral system and the age-old half-electoral, half-bureaucratic policy one - whose real face has been gradually revealed to be as vulgar - will be stuck in a continued face-off.

    Professor Nidhi Eoseewong is a historian who started the alternative educational forum, the Midnight University.

    Bangkok Post

  3. #13
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    Re: PPP meets to discuss constitution amendments

    PAD issues statement against charter amendment


    (BangkokPost.com) – The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has issued its sixth announcement denouncing the government’s plans to amend the 2007 constitution.

    The group insisted that the current constitution is right for the country’s future and said the 14 million people who voted in its favour at the national referendum proves that the charter had been introduced through democratic means.

    It likened plans by the government to amend the entire 2007 constitution to a silent coup orchestrated by those still loyal to ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

    The PAD stressed that any changes made to the charter should first be approved by the people. If they are in favour of its amendment, a constitution drafting committee should also be set up comprising representatives of the people, academics, MP’s and senators.

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