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No delay for Asean Charter - FM

The Foreign Ministry reaffirmed on Wednesday that procedure required by the Thai Constitution would not delay the signing of the Asean charter as the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) could pass its reading in time before the signing at the Asean summit in Singapore in late November.

The Foreign Ministry would propose the final draft of the Asean Charter for the consideration of the Cabinet next week before a submission to a reading with the NLA by the first week of November, according to the ministry deputy spokesman Piriya Khempon.

Asean Secretary General Ong Keng Yong cautioned earlier that the signing of the charter might be delayed by the possible absence of the Burmese leader, and that requirements by Thailand's 2007 Constitution might obstruct the signing.

"Thailand will be here, but if you read their new constitution, there is a restriction on what the Thai government can sign. Under the new constitution it is a requirement that before the government signs anything, prior approval has to be obtained from Parliament," Ong said.

The 2007 Constitution's Article 190 states that prior to the signing of any pact with foreign countries or international organisations, which might significantly affect national security, the economy and civil society, the Cabinet needed a public hearing and approval from Parliament.

 The High Level Task Force on the Drafting of the Asean Charter is in their final meeting in Vientiane this week to complete the charter prior to the signing during the Summit.

The Asean summit in Singapore is scheduled to start on November 22.

The Foreign Ministry's PermanentSecretary Virasakdi Futrakul informed a meeting of Asean Senior Officials in Manila in July, that his government could manage to pass all requirements by the new constitution in time before the singing of the charter in Singapore.

Outgoing Deputy PermanentSecretary Pradap Pibulsonggram, who was the head of Thai taskforce on the charter drafting, has also updated the NLA's Foreign and People Participation Committees on the progress of the charter. As a result, there would be no problem for the members of the NLA to handle the charter under the time constraint, Piriya said.

After 40 years of its establishment, Asean is about to have a charter to support its legal status and regulations in transforming Asean into a real community. The charter will also give birth to the Asean human rights body to protect and promote human rights in the member countries.

Supalak G Khundee

The Nation

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