Thailand's draft constitution will not restore democracy, expert says

Thailand's draft constitution will not restore democracy, expert says

Thailand's draft constitution will not restore democracy, expert says

Updated 26 July 2014, 11:00 AEST

A Thai academic says the military government's new constitution, signed by the King on Wednesday, is a ploy to strengthen military rule.

Kyoto University's Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun says the world should not be fooled by the actions of the military junta.

"This has nothing to do with promoting democracy," he said.

"I think the aim of the coup this time is to entrench the power of the political elite and in so doing they are preparing to write a constitution that would serve their purpose."

In May, the army overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra after months of political turmoil.

Having spoken out against the coup, an arrest warrant for Dr Chachavalpongpun has been issued and his passport revoked by the Junta in Bangkok. He is seeking refugee status in Japan.

Certain provisions in the draft constitution ensure the military maintains control of most aspects of Thai political and social life.

The membership of all the major bodies to be formed will be hand picked by the military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order, headed by General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

They include the National Assembly, the Cabinet or Council of Ministers, a National Reform Council to draft legislation, and a Committee to draft a new constitution.

The Prime Minister will be appointed by the Assembly and can be removed by the military.

The Council can also take any action it sees fit in the name of national order and security and is granted amnesty on any of its past or future actions.

Dr Chachavalpongpun says the new provisions will cement General Prayuth's rule.

"There is do denying that Prayuth Chan-ocha would be the man of the day and appoint himself to be the next prime minister," he said.

"At the end of the day, we're talking about a real dictatorship that we would see in Thailand for quite some time."

But Chulalongkorn University Professor and former adviser to Prime Minister Abhist Vejjajiva, Panitan Wattanayagorn says there are safeguards in the constitution against the military's power.

"The drafters of the constitution insisted that Article 44 in particular will not be exercised or implemented except in emergencies or in a crisis," he said.

"Those three new structures or bodies will in turn implement various political functions paving the way to the normalcy and the election."

Dr Chachavalpongpun says the new constitution is not democratic, by the fact that it will not be put to a referendum.

"Basically, [the military is saying] this is what you will get, this is something we will give to you and you have to accept it," he said.

"I think Thai people will have to live with it for now, for fear that they could be arrested, they could be put in jail."

Once established, the committee will have 10 months to draft a new constitution.