The voters and a constitution

With one week to go before a ancestral referendum decision, electorate are expressing an nervous acceptance of a argumentative licence that opens a approach for a statute troops supervision to sojourn in energy for another 5 years.

No, appreciate you: Members of polite groups uncover their antithesis to a breeze structure during a convention during Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus. photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

In an bid to sign a mood around a country, Spectrum interviewed dozens of electorate from a North, Northeast, a South and Bangkok to try and discern their voting intentions, bargain of and destiny hopes for a structure penned by Meechai Ruchupan. The speak subjects came from all walks of life, from farmers and business people to schoolteachers, lawyers, consultants and politicians.

With an additional doubt seeking either 250 unelected senators can have a essential purpose in final a subsequent primary minister, a referendum was always going to be controversial. But equally unsettling has been a Prayut Chan-o-cha supervision and a Election Commission’s restrictions on open discuss about a charter’s essence in a run-up to a vote. The UN Special Rapporteur final week cursed a high series of arrests — some-more than 85 given final month — as partial of a supervision crackdown on dissenting voices.

An ambiguous set of manners set out by a EC underneath laws to run a referendum (see Page 9) has customarily combined to some people’s difficulty over what they can and can’t say. It comes as small warn that a inhabitant opinion check by a National Institute of Development Administration final week found a outrageous 60% of electorate were still uncertain on either or not to accept a charter. But if a answers Spectrum perceived — from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Pattani — are anything to go on, it seems that many people intend to opinion subsequent Sunday, and opinion “yes”. Also, many of those who upheld a licence did so with a clarity of abdication that it is a customarily approach brazen for a country, with Mr Meechai’s “anti-corruption constitution” as a driver.


Corruption allegations opposite Thaksin Shinawatra kick-started protests opposite a refugee former primary apportion and his dependent domestic parties, and have divided and dominated Thai politics ever since.

The Constitution Drafting Committee has done crime one of a focuses of a draft, that gives some-more energy to a Constitutional Court and eccentric bodies to offer checks-and-balances functions with open scrutiny. The domestic complement is also restructured to forestall people who lie from being endangered in politics.

Up for adoption: Chief constutition author Meechai Ruchupan with a breeze that will be theme to a referendum subsequent Sunday. photos: Chanat Katanyu

Kriengkrai Lertsirisamphan, a 48-year-old business confidant in Bangkok, pronounced nonetheless a licence competence not assistance rise a country, it will effectively absolved it of corruption, including vote-buying and nepotism.

But he pronounced restrictions should not be too serious or they will forestall people — some who competence have been framed to seem guilty of crime — from entering politics. The critique corresponds with that of a 3 categorical domestic parties, who contend a licence seeks to place extreme control on politicians. If a licence is rejected, he pronounced a supervision should adopt a before licence as an halt remedy.

“If it’s rejected, it means a infancy have disastrous views towards a National Council for Peace and Order,” he said.

Janjira Didcharoen, a 21-year-old tyro during a northeastern Ubon Ratchathani University’s domestic scholarship faculty, pronounced a breeze licence gives too many decision-making energy to a government, that will pave a approach for corruption.

“The criteria for this decision-making are also unclear, and it will be tough for people to locate their mistakes,” she said.

In Thaksin’s domestic building of Chiang Mai, Noi Sangwan, a amicable workman in her thirties, told Spectrum rebellious crime would many expected spin out to be a hallmark of a stream administration as it had struggled to urge a mercantile situation.

“I entirely trust that this supervision came here to reset a disorderly multitude to zero,” she said. “When he initial stepped in and took over a nation underneath a troops government, Gen Prayut used this anti-corruption intrigue as his strongest indicate underneath his compulsory powers. If this can unequivocally happen, we will be really happy to see such a large change to this country, that no one else has been means to do.”

But many people Spectrum spoke to in Chiang Mai, while expressing support for anti-corruption measures, doubted they could be enforced even if a new structure is accepted.

In southern Trang province, rubber camp rancher Jamnong Srinacon, 36, also pronounced anti-corruption measures would be tough to enforce. He also voiced concerns they competence be inequitable opposite sold politicians.

“A structure is partial of a country’s governance,” he said. “How good it will be implemented depends on people and a enforcement. Without effective enforcement, a structure will destroy to grasp a anti-corruption idea like past constitutions have failed.”

Some critics disagree a anti-corruption measures customarily aim inaugurated politicians while ignoring troops graft. A prospectus distributed by a anti-junta New Democracy Movement counters a government’s claims by observant a Constitutional Court and eccentric organisations already have a lot of management and a story of inserted in a acts of those inaugurated to power. Some members of these eccentric organisations have a tighten attribute with a NCPO, according to a NDM.


Pornsil Patchrintanakul, an confidant to a Thai Chamber of Commerce, warned opposite rejecting a breeze charter, observant doing so would lead to doubt for a nation and a business community.

“If a licence is approved, there will be elections. But if it is rejected, we don’t know what will happen, and who knows how enlarged it will take to finish drafting a new charter. The risk lies with a latter,” he said. “And businesses don’t like uncertainty, so that competence impact a economy and really a batch market.”

But Pavich Supapipat, a domestic consultant, pronounced a breeze licence will not assistance rise a nation as it lacks open participation. He pronounced supervision should find ways to engage a open zone in drafting a new licence if it is rejected.

“If a licence is rejected, it shows that a supervision lacks legitimacy,” he said. “The nation is still pang from mercantile issues, there is still dispute and they can’t get people to approve a charter. People will consider that 0 works [under this government].”

Central to growth is education, and some electorate voiced fears that a inherent change to yield giveaway drill for 12 years, from kindergarten to Mathayom 3 level, was a wrong move. The infancy pronounced a 12 years of giveaway preparation should be confirmed until a execution of high school, and even extended to tertiary level.

Wanpen Somkit, a 35-year-old propagandize executive in Chiang Mai, pronounced it was unsuitable for a supervision to “cut down a years of preparation support”.

She pronounced while a changes in a referendum competence sound like good opportunities, they “don’t advantage many”.

But Ampai Moonthi, 54, who teaches in Mae Taeng district 60km outward Chiang Mai, has a opposite perspective. For 3 decades her students have been hill-tribe and farming children and even adults undergoing simple education. She pronounced if a government’s purpose is to yield a simple preparation to all, afterwards Mathayom 3 “is some-more than enough”.

“I’ve taught all my life in suburban areas and we know that many people don’t see preparation as that important,” she told Spectrum. However, she pronounced a improved deployment of preparation resources competence assistance those going on to university studies rather than forcing them to take out tyro loans.


The undermining of health advantages underneath a new structure was another emanate farming electorate in a North and South were disturbed about.

Songkhla rancher Kanokpol Laotrakul, 44, pronounced he was endangered about a draft’s deceptive wording. “It will spin Thailand’s concept medical intrigue from a simple right to customarily an assist for patients who are tangible as bad people,” he said.

In a lower-income outdoor suburbs of Chiang Mai, many electorate voiced identical concerns and speedy destiny governments to extend a medical system.

A 31-year-old bank manager, who identified herself as Ms Chayanit, says concept health caring was generally critical for a aged with no income.

“Everyone should have this simple right to good medical caring no matter who they are,” she said. “If a supervision wants to speak about expelling differences and inequality in a society, this is a best approach to uncover it.”

Siripen Simprarach, 34, a pharmacist who lives in Hang Dong district, says a medical complement is not equal during a moment. From her experience, people on supervision medical schemes tend to accept improved caring and medication.

“If Gen Prayut unequivocally wants to pierce equivalence to all people, a medical complement should be done equal for everyone. Those who are on a 30 baht health caring or amicable confidence get reduction advantages than those who are underneath a supervision officials’ medical scheme,” Ms Siripen said.

“The supervision officials get costly pills while those who are on a 30 baht intrigue get really simple medication. What is even worse is that some officials try to sell a costly pills they get to pharmacists.”


The country’s south is where People’s Democratic Reform Committee personality Suthep Thaugsuban took his initial core support from for his enlarged travel rallies in Bangkok opposite a Yingluck Shinawatra supervision before a May 2014 coup.

Private polling by both supervision agencies and domestic parties is display a South is where support for a “yes” opinion is strongest. Surprisingly, it’s here where Spectrum listened a many grievances opposite a miss of open submit into a drafting process, and bad preparation and open discuss about what Mr Meechai arrived at.

The referendum list paper will have dual questions, a initial seeking either or not electorate accept a breeze charter, and a second seeking either a Senate should join a House of Representatives in selecting a primary minister, who could come from outward parliament. If both questions are accepted, a breeze licence will be nice to embody a additional provision. The 250 senators would join a 500 inaugurated MPs in a corner sitting to establish a subsequent primary minister.

Songkhla rancher Mr Kanokpol pronounced a breeze was designed to be opposite approved and tellurian rights principles, citing concerns over a intensity for a senators to assistance select a primary minister.

“I don’t consider that a breeze will urge a country,” he said. “Lawmakers didn’t engage a open in a breeze process, and instead had a processed breeze structure where a customarily feedback we can give is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ “

Suthawan Buapan, 44, a caterer from Satun, pronounced she was endangered by a singular leisure of countenance for debating a charter.

“The authorised denunciation in a breeze structure is formidable to sense for many typical people,” she said. “The stream conditions where a supervision campaigns customarily on a advantages of a breeze while tying people from criticising it has worsened a atmosphere.” Ms Suthawan pronounced she had customarily review tools of a breeze that associated to her life, such as those on village rights, that competence not get full protection.

NCPO orders released underneath Section 44 of a halt licence will sojourn in outcome after a subsequent election, and a Public Gathering Act that requires troops accede before to open assembly.

Ms Suthawan believes supplies such as these will make domestic settlement harder if a new structure is implemented.

In Chiang Mai, each chairman interviewed by Spectrum pronounced a 1997 “People’s Constitution” was improved than Mr Meechai’s, that a infancy labelled a rubbish of time.

“For me, a best structure is a one from 1997,” pronounced schoolteacher Ms Ampai. “The reason we consider it’s a best is since a cabinet indeed got thousands of people to be partial of a breeze from all occupations, seductiveness groups and domestic viewpoints. From a thousands, they narrowed that down to 100 and everyone’s opinion counted.

“The structure from 1997 was truly drafted by a people for a people, distinct this version.”


Despite a concerns, a infancy of people Spectrum spoke to opposite a nation pronounced they would expel a vote, with many observant they would opinion “yes”.

A few concerns: Songkhla rancher Kanokpol Laotrakul, above, worries about a destiny of health care. Satun caterer Suthawan Buapan, right, wishes there was some-more discuss over a charter. photo: xxxxx xxxxx

Although they pronounced they would opinion to accept a charter, they combined they had reservations about usurpation a non-elected primary minister.

Pranee, 49, who owns a grocery store in Buri Ram’s Satuk district, pronounced she will opinion “yes” since she believes it will outcome in reduction corruption. “I consider what we have right now is improved than before,” pronounced Ms Pranee, who used to support Thaksin. “But even if we don’t like [Thaksin], it doesn’t meant that we entirely support this side [the military]. we still wish to see an inaugurated primary minister.”

Seksan, 23, a motorcycle cab motorist from Roi Et, pronounced he will opinion to accept a licence in sequence to pave a approach for elections as shortly as possible.

“Even if a licence is voted down, there should still be elections, or else a nation will not pierce forward,” he said.

Mr Pavich, a domestic consultant, concluded it was not excusable to have an allocated primary minister, that he regards as a “step backwards” for a country. “The 1997 licence is deliberate a best in my opinion since MPs and senators are elected,” he said.

Democrat Party personality Abhisit Vejjajiva also announced final week he would not accept a breeze constitution, observant it was his personal position though one that reflected a beliefs of his party. While reports after emerged of multiplication in Democrat ranks, Mr Abhisit pronounced a breeze unsuccessful to solve a problems of corruption, inhabitant growth and domestic conflict. He pronounced a 250 hand-picked senators would not customarily destroy to solve domestic conflicts though also supplement to them as they are not truly deputy of a people.

“The fact that we will not accept this breeze structure does not meant that we am perplexing to emanate disharmony for my country,” Mr Abhisit said.

Key PDRC personality Buddhipongse Punnakanta pronounced he will opinion “yes” since of a anti-corruption measures, including an increasing chastisement for hurtful politicians, that will assistance forestall “bad people” from entering politics.

“In a stream situation, we need to solve a country’s bigger issues first, such as corruption,” he said. “Everyone accepts that if there are good politicians who are reduction corrupt, a nation will improve.”


When asked what will occur if a breeze was rejected, opinions were divided on what a troops rulers’ subsequent pierce would be.

“The stream primary apportion will substantially not quit, and there will be an prolongation of energy by a army,” pronounced university tyro Ms Janjira. “He himself has announced publicly that if a licence is rejected, he will stay on.”

In Chiang Mai, electorate voiced regard about a Prayut administration stability to govern, irrespective of a outcome of a referendum vote.

“I’m not feeling worried about him being in power, though greatfully don’t let it be too long,” pronounced amicable workman Ms Noi. “He will stir adult some-more annoy and people competence not support him any more, generally those who used to be his categorical supporters.”

Schoolteacher Ms Ampai pronounced if a supervision stays on loyal believers in democracy competence not like what a primary apportion is doing. “Maybe it’s time for him to concede things to get behind to normal as shortly as possible,” she said.

But Jaroonroat Krasaesuk, a businessman and authorised confidant in Chiang Mai, pronounced a longer Gen Prayut stays in energy a some-more expected domestic tensions will ease.

“When he eventually gives behind energy to a people a conditions competence not be that moving since Thai people customarily forget things easily,” he said. “The disastrous partial is that we would be looked during in a disastrous approach by some unfamiliar countries that don’t know Thai politics, that is complicated. Plus, we have a possess chronicle of democracy that is not a full approved complement practised in other countries.”

PDRC personality Mr Buddhipongse pronounced if a structure is rejected, a NCPO competence need to use a powers underneath Section 44 to set adult a new structure drafting committee. Regardless of either or not a licence is adopted, a NCPO will be in energy for a enlarged time, he said.

“But if a licence is passed, during slightest they [the NCPO] will hang to their roadmap, in that all will pierce brazen according to a timeline,” he said. “But if it’s rejected, a NCPO competence have to stay on even longer and all will have to start from zero.”

Get out a vote: Ror Dor territorial counterclaim students have been handing out element to inspire appearance in a referendum. photo: xxxxx xxxxx

Mixed feelings: Emoji stickers reading ‘oh no!’, ‘suspicious’, ‘sad’ and ‘love’ for people to hang on a breeze during a Free Fair eventuality during Thammasat. photos: epa, Apichart Jinakul, Pattarachai Preechapanich and supplied

Pornsil Patchrintanakul.

Pavich Supapipat.

Taking a cake: Anti-charter groups have found artistic ways to get their summary opposite amid authorised restrictions in a lead-up to subsequent Sunday’s vote. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

Sticking together: PDRC care total Suthep Thaugsuban and Buddhipongse Punnakanta.

Lead-in: photos: Patipat Janthong, epa and Phrakrit Juntawong

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