Thai junta says referendum on new charter draft might stir up troubles

The Thai junta expressed reluctance about holding a public referendum for the new draft constitution, saying that it could lead to confrontations and political trouble.  

According to the Thai News Agency, Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the deputy spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Officer, on Thursday told the media that the government has to weigh the decision whether to hold a public referendum on the draft constitution carefully because it might stir up political turmoil.  

He added that the government has always been attentive to public opinion and the public good.    

“Holding a public referendum is one channel to inform people, but it must be done carefully and thoroughly when it comes to this [implementing the draft constitution]. Surveying public opinion on big issues without confrontation is difficult,” said Col Sansern.

“The government does not want a repeat of what has happened before and [I] urge [people] to think mindfully about the negative and positive results [regarding the public referendum],” added the junta leader’s spokesman.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) announced a plan to survey public opinion on issues related to the new charter draft and politics.

According to Thawilwadee Bureekul, a CDC member, 1,000 people from each of the 77 provinces of the country, about 0.11 per cent of Thailand’s total population, will be asked to respond to a set of questions concerning Thai politics and the contents of the draft constitution.

Under the plan, all respondents, who must be above 18 years old, will be asked questions on issues ‘related to the people’, such as what should be the requirements of senators and members of the parliament (MPs), the role of the courts, and elections.

"I believe this survey will not only let people voice their opinion about the draft constitution. It will also help people have knowledge and understanding about the new constitution," Thawilwadee said. "We will be able to know what the people think about the [charter] that we are drafting, whether it satisfies the people." Khaosod English quoted Thawilwadee as saying.

The CDC member added that the survey will be conducted by the National Statistics Office after the Thai New Year Songkran Holiday in mid-April.

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