Activists want FTA with Japan nullified

Bangkok Post | 27 October 2007

Activists want FTA with Japan nullified

File complaint saying pact is unconstitutional

APINYA WIPATAYOTIN

Activists opposing the Thai-Japanese free trade area (FTA) agreement yesterday filed a complaint with the Constitution Court, asking it to nullify the deal which they say is unconstitutional. Buntoon Srethasirote, a key member of the FTA Watch Group, said Article 190 of the 2007 constitution clearly states that any international agreement related to trade and investment and with an enormous impact on the country’s economic security, must be approved by parliament.

’’The government has bypassed the process stipulated in the constitution. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont hastily signed the agreement with his Japanese counterpart even though there was no need to do so. The free trade agreement should have been carefully considered by parliament,’’ he said.

The deal, formally called the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA), was signed in April when Gen Surayud officially visited Japan. It is due to come into full effect on Nov 1.

The FTA Watch Group has strenuously protested against the deal out of fear that Thailand would become a dump site for electronics and hazardous waste from Japan.

The group also called on the Constitution Court to nullify the cabinet’s resolution on Sept 18 that allowed Gen Surayud to sign the JTEPA without parliament’s endorsement, and also to void the exchange of diplomatic notes for the entry into force of the JTEPA.

’’The JTEPA is unlawful. The interim government is going to tear down the constitution,’’ Mr Buntoon said.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram said it was not necessary for the government to seek parliament’s approval for the JTEPA because the negotiation had been completed before the 2007 constitution came into force.

Moreover, the constitution clearly states that Article 190 is not retroactive to agreements completed before the charter came into effect.

Representatives from the FTA Watch Group, Aids Access Foundation and the Foundation of Consumers submitted a complaint to a representative of the Office of the Ombudsman, asking it to urgently forward the case to the Constitution Court for consideration.

source: Bangkok Post