Jon Ungphakorn, social activist and founder of Prachatai, has launched iLaw (http://ilaw.or.th) to enable people to propose and amend laws through the process of collecting 10,000 signatures to Parliament under Sections 142 and 193 of the 2007 Constitution.
Jon, the director of Internet for People’s Laws Project (iLaw), said that the objective of the website was to support and encourage ordinary people’s participation, which is not only signing petitions, but also helping shape the law.
‘Many have asked what laws the iLaw would want to change. The iLaw will provide space for people who want to propose laws or change the laws to solve the problems they see, and will facilitate the process in which communities present their ideas and a team of lawyers will help draft them,’ Jon said.
From his experience as a Senator, one of whose main jobs was to pass laws, he found that though the legislative process was complicated and full of hurdles, he believed that the people could handle this important process without direct training in law. Members of Parliament and senators also have diverse backgrounds, not all of them being lawyers, he said.
‘In general, each law has to pass complex procedures before it comes out as a law. Even though currently the people are allowed to collect 10,000 signatures to propose laws, it’s necessary to provide proper channels and opportunity for them to have true participation, which is a crucial step leading to the collection of signatures,’ he said.
Jon said that public participation corresponds to the trend that has been developing in cyberspace, and the internet is a model of democracy which challenges democracies all over the world.
‘I’d like to invite everybody to propose laws. Even though laws are not solution to all problems in society, they will increase the people’s leverage in changing society for the better,’ Jon said.
The iLaw website will support law proposals which do not go against social justice and equality, or violate human dignity, but promote the rights and freedoms, and democracy.
Now the website contains polls asking the public which laws need to be proposed or changed. Over 100 ideas have been collected. Amendments to the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Law are under discussion.