Wirat tipped to head charter vetting

Door still open to iLaw to offer ideas

Wirat: Studied first six drafts

Chief government whip and Palang Pracharath Party MP Wirat Ratana­sate is being tipped to head the parliamentary committee that will vet charter amendment drafts.

The 45-member committee, formed after parliament voted to accept two charter amendment drafts in the first reading during a controversial two-day joint session this week, is scheduled to meet for the first time on Tuesday.

The approved drafts were proposed by the coalition and opposition parties respectively.

It was agreed that the government-sponsored draft would be used to form the basis of a bill and both versions proposed to revise Section 256 of the charter to allow for the establishment of a charter drafting assembly (CDA).

Chinnaworn Bunyakiat, deputy chief government whip and Democrat Party MP, said next week’s committee meeting is expected to select the chairman and other key panel positions, and that he had no objections to Mr Wirat being chosen as chairman.

He said Mr Wirat had served as head of the parliamentary panel that was tasked with studying six of the draft charter amendment bills voted on by lawmakers this week and was widely accepted by senators.

The panel is likely to wrap up scrutiny of the two charter drafts within 45 days because the contents mainly involve the proposed amendments to Section 256 and the setting up of a CDA, he said.

Mr Chinnaworn said even though the draft proposed by civil group Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) was rejected, the group can still submit proposals to the CDA during the charter drafting process.

The rejection was immediately condemned by pro-democracy protesters.

Mr Wirat said on Friday iLaw and other civic groups can submit suggestions to the study panel.

He said two sub-committees will be set up to cover the details.

He assured that the committee will try to examine the charter amendment bills swiftly, but with tight meeting schedules it may take more than four meetings to finalise matters.

The second and third readings are likely to take place early next year.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader and panel member Anudit Nakhonthap said on Friday the opposition will decide next week if it will nominate someone to head the scrutiny committee.

Group Captain Anudit said he believes many MPs from both government and opposition camps, as well as senators will explain charter amendment in more detail in the second and third readings.

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