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Reactive blogger (~and more~)

Yud Saeng-Utai Memorial Seminar

Sorry, was not able to catch the early review of early constitutions on “The King” but panelist  discussion on increasing power of the king through revision of the constitution had prevailed despite the initial attempt to impose check and balance for exercising the sovereign power. The best take by a non-legal person at a seminar with the speed of light…
The King Can Do No Wrong: An explanation

Yud’s explained that the king cannot exercise his sovereign power on his own. There must be an institution (a parliament, a prime minister or a court) countersigning and be accountable for ‘his’ action. In fact in many country modern monarchy interpret the king or the queen’s action as merely ceremonial. The king can do no wrong, in Yud’s explanation, also can be interpreted as the king can do nothing. As his ceremonial action must be introduced, countersigned and be responsible for for by other parties under the constitution.  thus, it is also explained why, according to the 1992 constitution and other constitutions,  the king “shall be enthroned in a position of  revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.” The logic, according to Yud if the king do nothing (legally or politically), then the king cannot be exposed to any accusation. The government, the Parliament or the Court that countersign for the king, however, shall be subject to any action or accusation respectively.

Assessment of the Regain of the Power

The base line for this analysis was pre BE 2511 constitutions and post  2511 ones. The most extreme one that King Rama VII seemed not to prefer was issued in June BE 2475, one of the many aspects to control and balance the power was to limit his veto right to only seven days. After that, a law can be enacted even without his signature. Since then, the changes in constitutions on The King session reflected ambiguous changes that could contribute to less participation from the Parliament. Panelists discussed that the latest one drafted in  1997 by ‘people’s process’), which was said to be the most democratic constitution, was the one that the right can set new standards on “The King” in democratic constitution and they were passed to the 2550 one as well.

Some legal points that a Panelist (Dr. Worajet Pakheerat)  noted:

  •  Veto Power   The king can withhold a draft law from seven days in the draft constitution presented by the People’s Party to initially 90+30 days plus at least 2/3 of vote from the parliament in the 1992 to the  present constitution.   Dr. Worajet viewed  that this give the King more chance  to exercise his discretion over legislative process. Plus, in my opinion, this veto right has been promoted to hint political implications.

The 1991  constitution mentioned:

Section 93. After a bill has been approved by the National Assembly, the Prime Minister shall present it to the King for singature within thirty days as from the date he receives such bill, and it shall come into force as an Act upon its publication in the Government Gazette. 
Section 94. If the King refuses His assent to a bill and either returns it to the National Assembly or does not return it within ninety days, the National Assembly must re-deliberate such bill. If the National Assembly resolves to reaffirm the bill with the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of existed members of both Houses, the Prime Minister shall present such bill to the King for His signature once again. If the King does not sign and return the bill within thirty days, the Prime Minister shall cause the bill to be promulgated as an Act in the Government Gazette as if the King had singned it.  (emphasis mine)

The 1997 constitution:

Section 94. If the King refuses His assent to a bill or an organic law bill and either returns it to the National Assembly or does not return it within ninety days, the National Assembly must re-deliberate such bill. If the National Assembly resolves to reaffirm the bill with the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of existing members of both Houses, the Prime Minister shall present such bill to the King for signature once again. If the King does not sign and return the bill within thirty days, the Prime Minister shall cause the bill to be promulgated as an Act in the Government Gazette as if the King had signed it . (emphasis mine)

The 2007 constitution:

Section 151. If the King refuses His assent to a bill and either returns it to the National Assembly or does not return it within ninety days, the National Assembly must reconsider such bill. If the National Assembly resolves to reaffirm the bill with the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of existing members of both Houses, the Prime Minister shall present such bill to the King for signature once again. If the King does not sign and return the bill within thirty days, the Prime Minister shall cause the bill to be promulgated as an Act in the Government Gazette as if the King had signed it.

Yet, there is a section I do not understand in the 2007 constitution read:

Section 153. In the case where the term of the House of Representatives expires or the House of Representatives is dissolved, the draft Constitution Amendment or all bills to which the King has refused His assent or which have not been returned by the King within ninety days, shall lapse. (emphasis mine)

It was not mentioned in the seminar but I just found reading it. Actually may be they would need more time to elaborate.

  • Right to name an heir 

    2007 constitution: Section 23. In the case where the Throne becomes vacant and the King has already appointed His Heir to the Throne under the Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467, the Council of Ministers shall notify the President of the National Assembly. The President of the National Assembly shall then convoke the National Assembly for the acknowledgement thereof and shall invite such Heir to ascend the Throne and proclaim such Heir King.

  • Later the “people’s constitution” adopt the whole sections in Section 23

    Right to amend the Palace Law on succession
    1997 and 2007 constitutions:  

    The Amendment of the Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467 shall be the prerogative of the King. At the initiative of the King, the Privy Council shall draft the Palace Law Amendment and shall present it to the King for His consideration. When the King has already approved the draft Palace Law amendment and put His signature thereto, the President of the Privy Council shall notify the President of the National Assembly for informing the National Assembly. The President of the National Assembly shall countersign the Royal Command. The Palace Law Amendment shall come into force upon its publication in the Government Gazette.

  • Worajet noted that the National Assembly that countersign the Royal Command do not have any participation in drafting or reviewing it. In case there must be any accountability question, should or must the National Assembly be responsible or accountable for what it did not do? Worajet also note the word “acknowledge.”
  • There are many more interesting bits of information and I have taken note. Probably the next post would be bit and piece left out from previous constitutions (the pre BE 2511) and the super legal discussion that even a space between two clause matters, and how to interpret Section 7 and the origin of Section 7. Panelists note that the attempt to negotiate more balance power of the constitution as a mechanism to control ruling power represented by the People’s Party in BE 2474 has been tampered in each writing of new constitutions.

    I am sorry if I did not calculated all BE to Common Era. I will try to do better next time and thanks to translation of Constitutions used:
    1991:http://www.parliament.go.th/files/library/b05-b.htm
    1997:http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1997_Constitution_of_Thailand#CHAPTER_VI:_The_National_Assembly
    2007:http://www.asianlii.org/th/legis/const/2007/1.html#C02

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