During our 75 years of democratization, we had… 35 years of bureaucratic politics 55 years of unstable government, weak political institutions, occasionally intervened by militant coups, which last year came the last one. 5 latest years of extremely strong and stable government, but with… Insufficient check-and-balance mechanism, High rent seeking, high political and fiscal illusion, and high corruption, High degree of civil right violation high irresolvable conflicts among groups and territories, then lead to the military coups, 10 years growing up of direct democracy and decentralization, still not sustainable and had been weakened by national patronage politics. Is democracy still viable in Thailand?
A quick glance on our new constitution Charas Suwanmala
We want to achieve four fundamental areas on Democratization Strengthen the check-and-balance mechanisms Enhance direct democracy Reinforce and enhance civil rights Prevent political illusions and corruptions
i. Strengthen the check-and- balance mechanisms Activate the parliamentary control measures. Our new constitution Free MPs from party control over their debates, votes, and etc. (162). 1/5 of MPs can propose to have inconfidential debate against the Premier and 1/6 MPs can do against ministers (155).
i. Strengthen the check-and- balance mechanisms Prevent the overwhelming majority government. Our new constitution… prevent party merging in the parliament (104)
i. Strengthen the check- and-balance mechanisms Activate the control power of judicial branch Our new constitution Have the supreme court in charged of cases against political posts (263), election frauds (139), and civil rights enforcement (212) Have the constitution court review the administrative law- making (184).
i. Strengthen the check- and-balance mechanisms Strengthen independent institutions Independent institutions can propose budgets directly to the parliament (168), to free this institutions from fiscal burdens.
ii. Enhance direct democracy Strengthen the media Our new constitution Not only address the principle of free media, no public censer allowed, and no state subsidies (45,46), but also… Mandate that political posts are not allowed to own, directly or indirectly, the media agencies (48)
ii. Enhance direct democracy Open political spaces for citizens Our new constitution 10,000 peoples can propose to initiate laws (163) 20,000 peoples can propose to recall and impeach political posts at all levels, including leaders of independent institutions (164) 50,000 peoples can propose for constitutional amendment.
ii. Enhance direct democracy Open political spaces for citizens Our new constitution Referendums are required for state actions that have serious impacts on citizens’ way of life, including FTA engagement (165) and constitutional amendment (291) Establish “the civic political development fund” to provide resources in supporting the civic movement.
ii. Enhance direct democracy Strengthen community and local self- government Our new constitution Streamlining intergovernmental relations, with respect to fiscal and functional devolution, personnel management, and others (281, 283, 288). Acknowledge community rights to protect their environment (67)
iii. Reinforce & enhance civil rights (26-62) Remove legal preconditions to automatically activate civil rights once the constitution is promulgated. Reinforce right to access to free primary education, basic health facilities, and the right of civil disobedience.
iii. Reinforce & enhance civil rights (26-62) The Human Right Commission can bring cases directly to the court (257). Enhance basic rights, such as… the right of disadvantages (the elderly, the homeless poor, and the disabilities) to access to basic living facilities. The right of public employees to form labor unions.
iv. Prevent political illusion and corruptions Strengthen fiscal democracy Our new constitution Mandate to have… Tax reform to attain a fair- taxation principle. introduce the public finance administration act that founds the principle of fiscal democracy.
iv. Prevent political illusions and corruptions Prevent conflict of interests in politics Our new constitution mandate that… Political posts are not allowed to involve, directly or indirectly (via nominee agents), public concession and purchasing, or receive benefits from public organizations (265).
iv. Prevent illusions and corruptions Activate political ethics Our new constitution Put political ethics in place, enforced by the Ombudsmen, the parliament, and citizen, through the impeachment process (280).
The progress and next steps The drafted constitution passed the national referendum on August 19, 2007, with 58.18% accepted. The general election is coming up in the next three months, December 2007. The new democratic government is expected to assume power in the next four- five months, January-February 2008.
That’s all, and thank you. More discussion is preferable in the question-answer session.