Friday, April 18, 2008

Constitutional amendments

The Nation has given details of the constitutional amendments that the PPP party are working on changing.
(A text of the 1997 version is here (HTML) and the 2007 version here (PDF) ).
  • - Provisions relating to state policies will be overhauled to allow leeway for an elected government to set policies in accordance with campaign platforms.

A little more detail would be nice here, since constitutions by nature are full of "provisions". It is probably referring to section 70, parts 1 - 10 of the new version.

  • -The electoral system for MP's and senators will be changed completely back to the 1997 model.

Does this mean the number of MP's will increase? More snouts back in the trough? For what purpose? Or is it simply referring to articles 100 - 110 that (in the older model) used a simpler "one person one vote" FPTP system? The newer constitution has (effectively) more of a PR voting system, which gave smaller parties more representation.

  • The mandate for electoral supervision will also follow the 1997 model.
Referring to the EC, presumably section 231 of the new version, which gives the EC some teeth compared to section 145 of the old version. The current EC are junta appointed and therefore anathema to the PPP.

  • MP's will be allowed to hold political office.

No surprise there then, except I always predicted that old TRT members might take cabinet positions. Then again, once this whitewash is done, they can do so anyway.

  • The mandate for the judiciary, including the Courts of Justice, the Constitution Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, will revert to the 1997 model.

More power plays. The new constitution (act 202) declares a judges selection committee for Constitutional Court judges and it's this area the PPP are worried about. The Supreme Court also has a selection process that has been altered slightly. The retirement age for judges has been increased which PPP/TRT have always seemed unhappy about.
Jakrapob Penair once said while speaking on Al Jeezera that the judges were appointed by the junta, which was/is not true.

  • The selection process for officeholders in the judiciary and the independent organisations will adopt the 1997 model.

As above.

  • Punishment by party dissolution will be restricted only to three offences: overthrowing the system of constitutional monarchy, opposing democracy and threatening national security. The penalty would not apply to electoral fraud.

It's that word again! This clause is what it's all about. The whole purpose of PPP amending the constitution now, when Samak initially said it would not be done for a long while yet ( link1 , link 2 ) is to save their own skin. PPP and two other parties are facing charges of dissolution, as their executives are charged with vote buying. Under the current constitution, this is a offence for which the whole party can be dissolved. Still, no need to worry about breaking laws when you can change them.

  • The new independent organisations sanctioned by the 2007 Constitution, such as the Office of the Attorney-General, are slated to lose their status and become a part of the bureaucracy under the government.
This actually sickens me more than the previous clause, since the dissolution law seems harsh at best, whereas the OAG (section 245 new version) is a valid and crucial role. For the PPP to abuse their power to dissolve this position (for that is what it amounts to) I find disgraceful.

  • Article 309, which confirms the amnesty granted to the Council for National Security and its decrees, will be revoked since the clause is deemed redundant to Article 149 of the 2006 interim constitution.

Tit for tat. This article is irrelevant anyway, since any new coup would simply rip up the constitution. This is just a point scoring exercise.

Finally let me leave you with my quote of the week from Vatana "cry me a river" Asavahame. Vatana has been called to testify in a land scandal case several times, but , tragically, suffered from "amnesia" and forgot to appear the last four times (no I'm not making this up). This time though he did appear, and gave us a classic example of the bi-polar , narcissistic, switch from super arrogance to major self pity that we see from those who are intoxicated by power then bought to justice:

"I've been a politician for 30 or 40 years. My family's reputation has been ruined ... If I'm really guilty, don't jail me for life - execute me!"

Anyone got a guillotine?

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