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05BANGKOK3635 NCCC RESIGNATIONS SPUR MOVES TO AMEND CONSTITUTION

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“33760”,”6/3/2005 6:59″,”05BANGKOK3635″,”Embassy Bangkok”,

 

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,”05BANGKOK3521″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 003635

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA HUSO.

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, TH, NCCC – National Counter Corruption Commission , Constitutional Changes/Amendments

SUBJECT: THAILAND: NCCC RESIGNATIONS SPUR MOVES TO AMEND

CONSTITUTION

 

REF: BANGKOK 3521

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The Thaksin administration and the

political opposition are both drafting proposals for a

constitutional amendment on the selection process for the

National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC), from which all

nine National Counter Corruption Commissioners resigned

following their convictions for fiscal malfeasance (Reftel).

The opposition, led by the Democrat Party (DP), is expected

to submit a version that would drop the political parties

from the process and add participants from other

organizations. In addition to the NCCC, the opposition is

proposing this process for selection of the Election

Commission and the Constitutional Court. The government\’s

version, which reportedly will limit the political parties

participants to the Leader of the Opposition and the

President of Parliament, is expected to be submitted to the

Parliament over the next several days. Significantly, a

powerful, but disaffected faction within the governing Thai

Rak Thai (TRT) party is saying that amendment of the

Constitution should not be restricted to the article

governing selection of the constitutional independent bodies,

but should also include revision of articles that have

circumscribed the ability of members of Parliament (MP) to

change parties. End summary.

 

CABINET GO-AHEAD FOR AMENDMENT ON NATIONAL COUNTER CORRUPTION

COMMISSION

 

2. (U) The Thaksin administration is expected to shortly

submit to the Parliament an amendment on the selection

process for the disgraced National Counter Corruption

Commission (NCCC), from which all nine National Counter

Corruption Commissioners resigned following their recent

convictions for fiscal malfeasance. Following the Cabinet\’s

regular Tuesday meeting on May 31, Deputy Prime Minister

Wissanu Krea-Ngam had announced that that the government

agreed to initiate an amendment to Article 297 of the 1997

Constitution that sets forth the composition of the selection

committee for the National Counter Corruption Commission.

DPM Wissanu said the Government would confine the scope of

the amendment to this aspect only. The Council of State is

tasked to draft an amendment bill for submission to the

National Assembly in the next several days.

 

The government\’s proposed selection committee would include:

 

– President of the Supreme Court of Justice

– President of the Constitutional Court

– President of the Supreme Administrative Court

– 7 State Universities Rectors

– Chairman of the Election Commission of Thailand

– Chairman of the Human Rights Commission

– Ombudsman

– The Auditor-General

– President of the National Assembly

– Leader of the Opposition.

 

OPPOSITION PROPOSAL EXPECTED TO GO FARTHER

 

3. (U) The opposition parties (Democrat and Chart Thai) are

also expected to submit to Parliament their own proposed

constitutional amendments concerning the composition of

selection committees for membership on the key \”watchdog

bodies\” — the Election Commission, the Constitutional Court

and the National Counter Corruption Commission. As in the

case of the government\’s submission, the opposition proposal

drops the stipulated 5 representatives of political parties

from the process, but adds 5 participants selected from among

the 99 members of the National Economic and Social Advisory

Council (NESAC). (Note: NESAC was created as an independent

mechanism by the current 1997 Constitution, Section 89, which

states: that \”For the purpose of the implementation of this

Chapter, the State shall establish the National Economic and

Social Council to be charged with the duty to give advice and

recommendations to the council of Ministers on economic and

social problems. End note) The opposition also proposes

adding 4 other members of the selection committee to be drawn

from the 86 members of the Assembly of Supreme Judges.

 

Under this proposal, the new selection committee will

comprise the following members:

 

– 5 members of the National Economic and Social Advisory

Council

– 2 Human Rights Commissioners

– 7 State Universities Rectors

– President of the Supreme Court of Justice

– President of the Constitutional Court

– President of the Supreme Administrative Court

– 4 Supreme Court Judges.

 

IF THE AMENDMENT PROCESS GOES FORWARD

 

4. (U) The constitutional amendment process is based on

Article 313 of the Constitution, and consists of the

following principal steps:

 

Submission of the Amendment Motion

 

The Council of Ministers (or the Cabinet), or 1/5 of the 500

MPs in the House of Representatives (i.e., a minimum 100

MPs), or 1/5 of both the combined House and 200-strong

Senate (i.e., 140 MPs and Senators altogether) are authorized

by the Constitution to propose amendments to the National

Assembly (Joint Session of the House and Senate).

 

Amendment Process:

 

The motion or draft constitution amendment will be submitted

to the National Assembly for three required readings:

 

First Reading – Voting in the first reading for acceptance in

principle of the draft shall be by roll call and open voting,

and has to be approved by votes of not less than half of the

total number of the exiting members of both Houses (not less

than 350 votes);

 

Second Reading – Voting in the second reading for

consideration section by section shall be decided by a simple

majority of votes; and

 

Third Reading – Voting in the third reading shall be made

after 15-day interval from the second reading and the vote is

decided by roll call and open voting, and its approval must

be approved by votes of more than one-half of the total

number of the existing members of both Houses (or more than

350 votes).

 

Royal Endorsement

 

Following approval by the Parliament, the draft constitution

will be submitted to the King for Royal endorsement and

subsequent inclusion in the Government Gazette before it

becomes effective.

 

IN OPENING CONSTITUTION FOR AMENDMENT SOME MPS SEE AN

OPPORTUNITY

 

5. (U) On May 31, Surapol Fongngarm, Constituency MP from

Ubon Ratchathani and a leading member of the Wang Nam Yen

Faction of Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT), said that members of

his faction, including faction leader and TRT Party Chief

Advisor Sanoh Thiengthong, had decided that amendment of the

current Constitution should not be restricted to the article

governing the selection committee for the National Counter

Corruption Commission (NCCC) and other constitutional

independent bodies. Rather Surapol added, all other

\”controversial\” articles of the 1997 Constitution should be

looked at. He listed for consideration the requirement that

a candidate must be a member of a political party for at

least 90 days prior to election day (Article 107 (4)), and

the voting requirements for the submission of no-confidence

debates against the Prime Minister (Article 186) and

individual ministers (Article 185)). The Wang Nam Yen

Faction\’s move clearly contradicts Prime Minister Thaksin\’s

stated intent to sponsor only an essential constitutional

amendment governing the composition of the NCCC selection

committee and reflects the faction\’s chaffing under the

restrictions the Constitution place on the ability of faction

leaders to engage in political maneuvering and horse trading.

 

6. (SBU) Comment: While the conundrum brought about by the

1997 Constitution\’s ill-defined rights and selection formulas

for the independent committees can be remedied through some

legal fine tuning, the question of amending articles relating

to the powers of the members of Parliament is more

significant and potentially troubling. The 90-day rule has

brought about its intended purpose of keeping factions from

switching parties and provided the political stability that

the drafters envisioned. This will be the first time that

this reform constitution has been opened for amendment.

There have been other proposals over the past several years

for constitutional amendments, but, with enough general

chariness about the possibility that Parliament, public

advocacy groups and business interests might seek to change

selectively portions to fit their agendas — precisely the

situation now — the issue has always dissipated.

 

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:30 am

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