Thai Attorney-General: Constitutional amendments are legal
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Thai Attorney-General: Constitutional amendments are legal

The Nation:

The Attorney General’s Office said yesterday that government-sponsored bills to amend the Constitution were not aimed at overthrowing the political system, as has been alleged in petitions filed separately by five groups of people.

Winai Damrongmongkolkul, a spokesman for the agency, told a press conference last night the Attorney-General decided not to forward the petitions to the Constitution Court. “The amendment bills will not result in changes to the political system that are unconstitutional,” he said.

But the agency’s decision would not interfere with decisions by any other agency or organisation, the spokesman said. This referred to the Constitution Court’s decision last week to accept for judicial review five petitions filed directly with the court.

The Bangkok Post:

The decision creates the possibility of conflict between the attorney-general and the Constitution Court, adding a new dimension to what is fast becoming a showdown between the legislative and judicial branches of government.

OAG spokesman Winai Damrongmongkolkul said a meeting of state prosecutors concluded the ongoing charter rewrite process is a legitimate exercise of power by the legislative branch.

Mr Winai said state prosecutors agreed that all of the three charter amendment bills _ proposed by the government and its supporters _ have no provisions attempting to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as head of state, nor are they trying to acquire power to rule the country by unconstitutional means.

Mr Winai said state prosecutors concluded there was no need to submit petitions against the bills to the court.

The six petitions [against the charter amendment bills] do not have enough proof for the court to halt the charter amendment process,” Mr Winai said.

He said the OAG was performing its duty and its judgement did not infringe on the authority of the charter court.

The OAG has full legal authority under Section 68 of the constitution to investigate petitions before submitting them to the court, Mr Winai said.

BP: In case you are thinking that the Attorney-General is some Thaksin crony, he was actually appointed in September 2009 and then approved by the Senate. ASTV Manager was quick to extol his work acting as the government lawyer in the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai and PPP. Nevertheless, he also issued decisions to favour Thaksin, namely the Potjaman tax case.

While numerous legal experts criticizing the Court for accepting the motion, the decision of the Attorney-General not to proceed isolates the Constitutional Court. The Court has come in for strident criticism and well this will only continue.