THAILAND: Media may help draft charter, says Sonthi
CDR chief Sonthi requests representative from mass media to aid in drafting a permanent constitution after interim charter was already submitted
Saturday, September 30, 2006
By Yuwadee Tunyasiri
Council for Democratic Reform (CDR) head Sonthi Boonyaratkalin yesterday called on the mass media to nominate a representative to take part in drafting the country's next permanent constitution. Gen Sonthi made the suggestion while receiving at army headquarters a delegation of the Press Council of Thailand, led by its president Banyat Tasaneeyavej.
The 20-strong delegation raised concerns over the freedoms of people and the press in the interim constitution, which is expected to be promulgated tomorrow.
Gen Sonthi said he and the CDR appreciated the importance of these freedoms and the interim constitution had provided for them.
The CDR's success depended greatly on support from the public and the mass media, he said.
But he said the interim charter was concise and had already been submitted to His Majesty the King for approval.
Concerns over freedom should be discussed thoroughly during the drafting of the permanent constitution, he suggested.
In response to the press delegation's fears that influential people might infiltrate the 2,000-member national assembly that is due to be set up to select the constitution drafters, Gen Sonthi said experts would design methods to prevent this and the interim government would ensure they were in place.
He proposed that the mass media nominate a representative to sit on the 35-member constitution-drafting committee. The media representative could be among 10 experts that the CDR would field in the constitution-drafting committee. The other 25 members will come from the national assembly.
According to Gen Sonthi, the CDR is guaranteeing freedoms for the mass media. It met representatives of television and radio stations recently only to ask them to help publicise its affairs. Besides, the CDR will not intervene in the formation of the National Broadcasting Commission, which will regulate broadcasting businesses.
The formation would be the duty of the interim government and the CDR's only concern about the mass media rested with national security, Gen Sonthi said.
"We are concerned that grassroots people could be misled because there are still people who do not understand as they have no access to information and facts. We must admit that our society is significantly divided in terms of status and education," he said.
Date Posted: 9/30/2006