Thaksin link to constitution moves is key

Thai politicking appears to be going round in circles like, as an old saying goes, a dog chasing its tail.

Despite the political mantra for reconciliation, the yellow and red shirts are poles apart. The pro- and anti-Thaksin camps keep on faulting one another. The coalition and opposition lawmakers continue to sling mud instead of engaging in a policy debate.

And politicians of all stripes are gearing up for a new round of charter rewriting regardless of the risk of deepening social divisions.

Over the past 80 years, the country has gone through 18 charters. They had an average life expectancy of less than 4.5 years. The suspended 1997 charter lasted the longest, more than nine years, before it was tossed into the bin of history by the 2006 coupmakers.

Last week the charter amendment bill passed its first parliamentary reading on its way to forming a Constitution Drafting Assembly.

By April the legislative passage of the CDA should be completed. It will take about two months to form and activate the CDA. The picture of the new charter, No 19, should emerge in about six months.

From now to the end of the charter framing, the airing of opposing views on the draft provisions will likely become a dress rehearsal for the final showdown preceding the referendum on the charter, which should take place early next year.

Proponents of charter change will find it a daunting task to push for each provision. Then they have to ensure that the referendum result will outstrip the 14 million votes cast in the 2007 plebiscite, if the new charter is to gain a stamp of legitimacy.

Opponents will try to block proposed amendments related to independent organisations, punishment by party dissolution, the judiciary and electoral rules.

The charter debate is nothing new but a rehash of old and inconclusive issues, some of which date back to the pre-1997 era.

Of all the issues, the implication of the charter rewrite on the legal status of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will be the most contentious.

Although proponents will try to play down the possibility that the new charter will, directly or indirectly, help Thaksin elude his conviction and punishment, opponents will put up a fierce fight to prevent Thaksin from shedding excess baggage before his homecoming.

The now defunct People Power Party had underestimated the deep-seated anti-Thaksin fervour, which erupted in street protests running more than six months in 2007. The Pheu Thai Party should heed that lesson and work with utmost effort to prevent a repeat of the political mayhem involving the anti-Thaksin camp.

Unless the pro-Thaksin camp can quell suspicion over the link between the charter rewrite and amnesty, the political situation will grow increasingly volatile because the yellow shirts are preparing to pour into the streets to stop any attempts to bring Thaksin home with a clean slate.

To thwart an explosion of political violence, coalition lawmakers are obliged to draw a clear line between the charter amendments and the amnesty movement. They should also spell out how the planned amnesty designed to bring about reconciliation will, or will not, impact on legal issues involving Thaksin.

If the Pheu Thai MPs continue to rely on the red shirts to act as a shield for Thaksin, then they are foolish to try to fan a possible flare-up between red and yellow shirts. If this happens, the consequences will be dire indeed.
VIEW SOURCE FROM http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Thaksin-link-to-constitution-moves-is-key-30176813.html

Posted by seangkhun den on 7:03 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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