THAILAND’S Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has refused to say whether or not the public will be allowed to have a say in a new draft constitution if the current one fails to pass the referendum on August 7.
He has sent out a warning to critics not to “force” his hand by calling for democracy, and added they simply want “power” without contributing any real change.
Speaking at the Government House yesterday, Prayuth told reporters that if the current draft constitution is not approved, a new one will be written to take its place.
However, according to Nation Multimedia, Prayuth responded testily when asked if there would be any public participation allowed in drafting a new constitution.
He said: “Don’t force me to do this or that. I know what should be done. [Critics] seem to force me into everything – election and so on. In conclusion, they just want to gain power, but they won’t correct anything.”
Prayuth was reportedly referring to a call from a network of academics and individuals from civil society organizations and political parties, called the Platform of Concerned Citizens.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the group said the government should put in place a new drafting process where all stakeholders have a say in the writing of the new constitution.
The prime minister said his government will remain in power until the new constitution is in place, to ensure that a “new general election can be held”.
He added that his government cannot be held responsible if the draft charter, which was written by the Constitution Drafting Committee, does not succeed in next month’s referendum.
Forums for public debate regarding the new constitution will be held in all provinces, which Prayuth said he agreed with, but that “it should be done properly, otherwise opposing sides will fight again”.
However, the forums will make little difference even if majority disagree with the draft constitution, said CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan. “We cannot make any changes to the draft constitution now,” he said.
“It is time for you to decide whether to approve the draft or not. Holding a debate at this time may lead to conflicts and quarrel.”