Poll: Charter change unrest a risk

Nearly 70% of people surveyed are concerned that a move to rewrite the 2007 constitution could lead to political violence, Suan Dusit Poll said on Saturday.

  • Published: 8/12/2012 at 02:58 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

The pollsters at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University surveyed 1,022 people in Bangkok and nearby provinces, seeking their opinions on constitutional amendments, from Dec 4-7.

Asked whether they thought a move to change the charter could trigger unrest, 69.34% of the respondents said yes, because it was an important issue and differences of opinion in the past had led to political conflict and violence, Suan Dusit Poll reported.

Twenty-five percent of the respondents said they were unsure and would have to wait and see which points in the charter were to be altered. Only 5.66% believed there would be no unrest as they felt the government was capable of keeping the situation under control.

The concerns could be moot in any case, as the Bangkok Post reported on Saturday that the governing Pheu Thai Party plans to kill off its own charter amendment bill to head off a new round of political conflict.

Instead, the party would present a reworked bill that includes proposals from the opposition and the recommendations of the Constitution Court, a source said.

The government would then hold a referendum to gauge public opinion an amending the constitution, and then decide whether to amend Section 291 to create a drafting assembly.

Suan Dusit Poll also asked respondents what should be done to prevent political unrest. It said 30.16% of the respondents said the government must listen to the opinions of all parties and come up with the solution acceptable to all sides.

Slightly more than 28% called for a delay in the charter change plan, 24.1% wanted a publicity campaign on the reasons for altering the charter, and 17.64% said the government must clearly show that the goal is justice and not the self-interest of politicians.

Critics of Pheu Thai have said one of the main motivations for changing the charter was to secure amnesty for former premier Thaksin Shinawatra so that he can return to Thailand without having to serve a jail sentence.

Asked whether the charter should be amended, 41.62% of the respondents said yes, but they added that the government should provide a clear explanation of the issue to general public prior to making any changes.

However, 20.57% said the charter change should be delayed, 18.66% said there should not be any change, 11.5% said it didn't matter to them whether the charter was changed or not, and 7.65% said change should take place right now.

Asked about the principles on which any amendments should be based, 39.4% said the benefits of the country and people, righteousness, justice and democracy.

More than 34% said the benefits of the general public and listening to the voice of the majority of people were tyhe key considerations.

Another 25.97% said the amendments must be in line with the rule of law and the country's current situation.

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