Remember that draft constitution that the military junta decided to have approved by a referendum? Many, including the junta itself, considered that referendum a kind of vote for the junta. No real results were ever released, just a score that kept the junta happy.
The junta’s claims of “popular legitimacy” for the charter was skewered a bit when the new king got antsy with the bit of the charter that applied to him. Most of these bits weren’t that different from previous charters, but he wanted changes. All those changes were done in secret.
In other words, a “popular” charter became a secret royal constitution that was “revealed” on Chakkri Day in a royal ceremony not seen for five decades (yes, we know, it was never popular, but let’s go with it for now).
In a report in The Nation the conversion of the charter to a royal charter is completed.
The article is a seemingly simple account of how calligraphers made three copies of the charter on “paper … to be assembled as traditional Thai folding books.”
Now, it isn’t as if these scribes don’t get plenty of practice in inscribing constitutions in this way. They must have had to throw out the version the king flicked aside and Thailand goes through charters as if they are disposable.
The scribes belong to the Bureau of Royal Scribes and Royal Decoration of the Cabinet Secretariat.
One of the scribes describes his Bureau’s goal being “to ensure that our handwriting represents the royal will…”.
The most senior calligrapher is Suvanchai Nontasant, who stated: “It was my devotion to writing and the monarchy that attracted me to work here for so long…”.
Another scribe, Worathai Rianhattakam, says: “It’s also an honour that my written works are signed by the King…”.
Another of the clerks referred to the seals used on the charter and other documents and waied them saying, “As you see, these seals are associated with royalty…”. He added that women are prohibited from touching them.
The point of all of this is to add more royal ownership to the charter. In our view, this kind of royalism is contrived, to prevent change to the junta’s charter during this reign.