Forgot to post this earlier – after this article was published, the third reading of the constitution amendment bill was indeed voted down in parliament. But the point of this piece still stands…
The Constitutional Court’s recent verdict on the legality of constitutional amendment seems straightforward at initial glance. Any effort to write a new constitution, it said, must first be approved by a referendum, and then a second referendum must be held to approve the final draft. But parliament is free to make article-specific amendments to the current charter as it pleases.
Yet the verdict now threatens to further delay a constitutional reform process that has been moving at the pace of a wounded slug. A slug so wounded, it should be added, that it could also just drop dead and die at any moment.
The effort has already taken months, and the third reading of the bill to set up a constitutional reform committee is now scheduled for March 17th. Now, Palang Pracharath Deputy Leader Paiboon Nititawan argues that the verdict means the third reading of the bill is illegal — parliament has no authority, he argues, to initiate a constitution drafting process on which the people have not been consulted — and everything must start over.
Starting over, of course, would be another massive delay of the process. But here’s a question worth considering: would it really make a difference?