Constitution confusion

A couple of days ago, it was revealed that Prince Vajiralongkorn was leaving Thailand “to attend to personal business.” It was unclear when he would return, but some said 12 November.

As one report explained, “[t]he departure comes during a timeframe the military government had identified for the prince to ascend the throne, with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha saying last week it could be within seven to 15 days of the king’s death, or even later.”

Importantly, the prince’s scheduled return was after the 9 November deadline the junta had set itself for having the draft constitution proclaimed so that an “election” could be held next year. The junta had also stated that the charter would be ratified by the new king.

Clearly, the junta has backed itself into a bit of a corner. The prince’s decision not to be proclaimed king has created an unusual situation. The junta is now trying to get back to its “roadmap.”

At The Nation it is reported that Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has again been wheeled out to “explain” that the confusion is not confusion.

Wissanu is reported as stating that the junta “will seek royal endorsement of the new charter before November 9 and the new King will sign the charter…”. He went on to “explain” that the required “amendment of the preamble [replacing the late king’s name], however, would be postponed until after the royal title proclamation.”

This is stranger than strange. It seems that the junta could have the regent sign for the “absent” king, but Wissanu refers to the new king signing. It would be a remarkable constitutional “innovation” if the prince were to sign it before being proclaimed king. It would be unconstitutional. We realize that the military doesn’t worry much about constitutions or law, but this proposed action would mangle constitution and law.


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