How far will Somsak push defiance of court?
Decision on charter reading lies with the Parliament chief after Pheu Thai Party votes to challenge top judgesAll eyes are on the Parliament president today after his ruling Pheu Thai Party resolved to challenge the Constitution Court's order to postpone the final vote on the charter amendment bill.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said yesterday after the party's meeting that even though Pheu Thai MPs agreed to defy the court, it would be up to Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont to decide when to call the final vote on the bill.
Voting to defy the Constitution Court's order is likely today. It was meant to be a show of protest against "interference" in legislative affairs, but Prompong refused to say whether the defiance would be followed by the third reading.
Voting to defy the court but holding the final vote on the charter bill could be a tactical retreat by the government from a collision course with the Constitution Court.
Somsak has a big role to play. He can either facilitate an immediate final vote on the bill, or delay it until the court makes its final interpretation on the "constitutionality" of the draft.
Government whips, meanwhile, have proposed to end the current extended session of Parliament next Tuesday.
The next session will convene on August 1.
Government chief whip Udomdej Rattanasathien said the House-Senate meeting today would continue the consultation on the Constitution Court's injunction from last Friday.
Asked if the government whip will wait for the Constitution Court's ruling, he said the government will only go on if the agenda is scheduled. However, in the House-Senate meeting today, there might be an opinion session on whether the Constitution Court's injunction is effective on Parliament.
Udomdej also gave assurances that the government will not proceed with the reconciliation bill in this session and would like to make a clear statement to people as it had been used to stir people up.
Senator Somchai Sawangkarn said during the Senate meeting that the Senate should not join the meeting scheduled for today as 20 members can approve a motion for a vote on whether to accept the Constitution Court's order to halt deliberation on the charter amendment bill.
"I have checked the law carefully. If this is pushed through, the Parliament president must face criminal charges and consequently be out of the post. I'm worried. We should stop, also the push for the reconciliation bill that [is expected] to be brought to the meeting [tomorrow]. If it moves on, a crisis might occur," he said.
The Democrat Party urged the Parliament president to confirm the agenda for today.
Democrat MP Ong-art Klampai-boon said there was a possibility that the House would agree to respond to the Constitution Court's injunction and some members might ask the House to vote on the charter bill right after that.
A red-shirt leader continued to push for a show of hands on the charter bill and vowed not to protect a "cowardly" Parliament president.
Pheu Thai MP Korkaew Pikulthong said the Parliament president should let Parliament vote on the bill without waiting for the court's ruling. He should not be afraid of the threat that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet must be held responsible and face charges.
The yellow shirts asked the Attorney-General's Office to explain why it delayed considering the case over doubts that the charter bill was constitutional and did not pass the complaints over the legality of the charter bill to the Constitution Court. The group also threatened to file a malfeasance suit against the state prosecutors.
Panthep Pourpongpan, spokesman for the People's Alliance for Democracy, said that on April 26, PAD had filed a complaint with the Attorney-General but they did nothing after more than a month. It later abused its power and acted as the court in deciding on the issue without authority, the spokesman said.
PAD also submitted the same complaint directly to the Constitution Court after the Attorney-General had neglected to do its job, Panthep said.