Leading Thai academics and activists call for referendum on new constitution

Politicians, labour unionists, academics, and others are urging the Thai junta to hold a public referendum on the draft constitution, pointing out that the people have the highest authority to determine the constitution.

According to a Facebook page ‘Public referendum group’, over 150 leading academics, activists, and others such as Nidhi Eowseewong, Piyabutr Sangkanongul, a leading political scientist and a law scholar from Thammasat University, Chaturon Chaisang, former Education Minister of the Pheu Thai Party, and Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, a well-known director, on Sunday signed a joint ‘Call for a Democratic Public Referendum’.

The statement demands that the Thai junta hold a public referendum on the draft constitution before its enactment and that if the public does not approve the draft, it should be redrafted by elected representatives.

“If the National Reform Council (NRC) approves the draft constitution, a public referendum should be held within 30 days,” said the statement. “The election for a new Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) [to redraft the constitution] should be held within 45 days after the referendum, if the draft is not approved by the public.”

The new draft constitution must be completed within 90 days by the elected CDC members if the majority of people voted against the draft.

The statement also suggests that after the new draft is approved through a referendum, national elections should be held within 30 days.