Thai Junta's Latest Constitution Draft Denounced by Politicians

  • Thaksin-linked Pheu Thai warns it will lead to instability
  • Thailand's benchmark stock index has fallen 25% in past year

The Thai junta’s second attempt at drafting a constitution to replace the one it tore up in 2014 isn’t going any better, with the country’s biggest political party dismissing it as undemocratic just hours after its release.

The constitutional drafting committee’s preliminary 270-article draft was presented to the public Friday and sent to top generals, the cabinet, election commission, courts and other government agencies for feedback. The first to react, however, were politicians who have repeatedly lost power over the past decade.

"A few people who don’t come from elections will decide the country’s future," the Pheu Thai party, which controlled the government ousted in a May 2014 coup, said in a statement. "We will have a weak government without stability."

Wrangling over what would be the nation’s 20th constitution since 1932 could further exacerbate tensions in a country still deeply divided after a decade of political unrest. A previous draft was panned by both sides of the political divide and rejected by a military council that feared it could lead to more disputes.

Stock Plunge

Thailand’s export-reliant economy has languished under military rule and weak global demand, with overseas sales contracting for a third straight year in 2015. The benchmark stock index is down 25 percent in dollar returns over the past year, one of Asia’s worst performers in that time.

The junta had previously promised that any new constitution must get voter approval, but Army Chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha indicted this week that he may pick the next charter himself if the new draft is rejected.

The drafters are seen as trying to limit the power of politicians and end the electoral dominance achieved by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose allied parties -- including Pheu Thai -- have won every ballot since 2001 and were twice ousted in coups.

The head of the drafting committee, Meechai Ruchupan, said the key focus of the draft was trying to eradicate corruption from both the public and private sector. He emphasized that changes would be made before it is sent to voters.

“The committee is welcome to listen to suggestions from everyone, which should be based on benefits to the public and the country," Meechai told reporters on Friday.

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