Updated: Prem becomes Regent? I

In a stunning story at Khaosod, it is reported that General Prem Tinsulanonda is now Regent. We have not seen any official announcement of this.

The report is attributed to Peerasak Porjit, who is vice-president of the National Legislative Assembly.

When Prince Vajiralongkorn “said he would take the role of monarch when he was ready, after mourning his father,” there was immediate confusion. Was the further evidence of a struggle over succession?

Legal experts cited in the report refer the “unexpected turn of events” and say they “could have far-reaching legal ramifications and means that a former prime minister who heads the King’s Privy Council, now acts as regent for the empty throne.”

Peerasak stated: “Right now we have no king…. So, all of the royal duties of a king must be done through the regent.” According to the constitution, that means the aged old schemer Gen. Prem. The report states that “Peerasak confirmed Prem is now regent in accordance with the constitution.” Yet it is unclear who might sign the appointment for Prem.

Uncharted waters indeed.

If this isn’t confused enough, Thammasat University law professor Kittisak Prokati said:

interim parliament chairman Pornpetch [Wichitcholchai] was clearly required by Section 23 of the constitution to invite Vajiralongkorn, yet he did not do so Thursday night…. It means the parliament chairman must be held accountable for not performing his duty as described in Section 23…. Because he did not invite the Crown Prince, we have a huge case of confusion here, because this case could have been decided by Section 23.

The question arises: if this is not a struggle over succession, then the junta is seriously confused and incompetent. After all, they have had two years and more to prepare for this.

Update: The Section 23 referred to is in the 2007 Constitution, which if our memory is correct, the junta maintained for the sections on the king. Here’s what that charter says:

Section 18
Whenever the King is absent from the Kingdom or unable to perform His functions for any reason whatsoever, the King will appoint a person Regent, and the President of the National Assembly shall countersign the Royal Command therefore.

Section 19
In the case where the King does not appoint a Regent under section 18, or the King is unable to appoint a Regent owing to His not being sui juris or any other reason whatsoever, the Privy Council shall submit the name of a person suitable to hold the office of Regent to the National Assembly for approval. Upon approval by the National Assembly, the President of National Assembly shall make an announcement, in the name of the King, to appoint such person as Regent.

During the expiration the term of the House of Representatives or the dissolution thereof, the Senate shall act as the National Assembly in giving an approval under paragraph one.

Section 20
While there is no Regent under section 18 or section 19, the President of the Privy Council shall be Regent pro tempore. In the case where the Regent appointed under section 18 or section 19 is unable to perform his or her duties, the President of the Privy Council shall act as Regent pro tempore.

While being Regent under paragraph one or acting as Regent under paragraph two, the President of the Privy Council shall not perform his or her duties as President of the Privy Council. In such case, the Privy Council shall select a Privy Councilor to act as President of the Privy Council pro tempore.

Section 22
Palace Law on Succession, B.E. 2467.
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 thereon, 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, and the Palace Law Amendment shall have the force of law upon its publication in the Government Gazette.

During the expiration of the term of the House of Representatives or the dissolution thereof, the Senate shall act as the National Assembly in acknowledging the matter under paragraph two.

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 convoke the National Assembly for the acknowledgement thereof, and the President of the National Assembly shall invite such Heir to ascend the Throne and proclaim such Heir King. In the case where the Throne becomes vacant and the King has not appointed His Heir under paragraph one, the Privy Council shall submit the name of the Successor to the Throne under section 22 to the Council of Ministers for further submission to the National Assembly for approval.

For this purpose, the name of a Princess may be submitted. Upon the approval of the National Assembly, the President of the National Assembly shall invite such Successor to ascend the Throne and proclaim such Successor King.

During the expiration of the term of the House of Representatives or the dissolution thereof, the Senate shall act as the National Assembly in acknowledging the matter under paragraph one or in giving an approval under paragraph two.

Section 24
Pending the proclamation of the name of the Heir or the Successor to the Throne under section 23, the President of the Privy Council shall be Regent pro tempore. In the case where the Throne becomes vacant while the Regent has been appointed under section 18 or section 19 or while the President of the Privy Council is acting as Regent under section 20 paragraph one, such Regent, as the case may be, shall continue to be the Regent until the proclamation of the name of the Heir or the Successor to ascend the Throne as King.

In the case where the Regent who has been appointed and continues to be the Regent under paragraph one is unable to perform his or her duties, the President of the Privy council shall act as Regent pro tempore.

In the case where the President of the Privy Council is the Regent under paragraph one or acts as Regent pro tempore under paragraph two, the provisions of section 20 paragraph three shall apply.

Section 25
In the case where the Privy Council will have to perform its duties under section 19 or section 23 paragraph two, or the President of the Privy Council will have to perform his or her duties under section 20 paragraph one or paragraph two or section 24 paragraph two, and during that time there is no President of the Privy Council or the President of the Privy Council is unable to perform his or her duties, the remaining Privy Councilors shall elect one among themselves to act as President of the Privy Council or to perform the duties under section 20 paragraph one or paragraph two or section 24 paragraph three, as the case may be.

2 comments

  1. “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 thereon, 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, and the Palace Law Amendment shall have the force of law upon its publication in the Government Gazette.”

    Presumably the Regent could use this process to, say, revise the succession in favour of Princess Sirindhorn, should he want to?

    1. See our latest post, where Wissanu specifically denies this.

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