Guide to the Thai junta’s Draft Constitution: The “human rights” sections

Don't worry about Human rights

I read an English translation of the junta’s proposed draft constitution for Thailand and highlighted some interesting parts. The bold headings are mine. The rest is, unfortunately, the actual proposed constitution:

Preamble: You the people, are to blame for our current predicament because you are uneducated and immoral:
Sometimes there have been constitutional crises with no solutions and partial causes thereof were attributed to the people who ignored or disobeyed administrative rules, corrupted or distorted power or did not recognize their responsibility to the nation and the public resulting in ineffective law enforcement. It is therefore of necessity to prevent and resolve these problems by means of educational reform and law enforcement and to strengthen a moral and ethical system. Another reason concerned the consequences of political and administrative rules that were not appropriate for the situation of the country and the time period, and attached importance to the format and procedure rather than the fundamental principles of democracy; . . . .

Good governance is based on finding “good people” to rule and not on institutional checks and balances:
. . . the placement of mechanisms to strictly prevent, monitor and eradicate corruption and misconduct – all are for the purpose of preventing leaders or officials of no morals, ethics and good governance from taking power in the administration of the country or exercising their power arbitrarily.

Thailand is special and needs to craft a special form of government that incorporates the word “democracy”:
To achieve this goal requires co-operation from people in all sectors with the State agencies according to the people-state concept under the rules pertaining to the principle of democratic and traditional governance suitable for the situation and the characteristics of Thai society, the integrity, the human rights and good governance principles which will drive the development of the country in a strategic way towards political, economic and social stability, prosperity and sustainability in compliance with the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State.

We already explained to you simple farm folk why you need to vote yes; now shut up and vote YES:
In the implementation thereof, the Constitution Drafting Committee has built public awareness and understanding of the principles and justifications of all provisions on a periodic basis so as to provide the opportunities for the public to widely access the Draft Constitution and its explanations through a variety of media and to allow public participation in the development of the content of the Draft by providing recommendations on the revision it so requires. Upon completion, the Draft Constitution has been disseminated to the public with the summary of explanations on its essence in a manner which enables the public to easily and generally understand it, and has organized a referendum to approve the entire Draft Constitution.

You are getting sleepy, very sleepy . . . Now turn off your brain:
The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of the State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

We are making this up as we go along:
Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, . . . the President of the Constitutional Court shall convene a joint meeting of the President of the House of Representatives, the Opposition Leader in the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the President of the Constitutional Court, and the Presidents of Constitutional Organizations to make decision thereon. The joint meeting shall elect one among themselves to preside over each session. In case of the absence of any position holder, the joint meeting shall be composed of the existing holders of the positions.

Vajiralongkorn will magically become a god:
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.

All persons are equal before the law (some restrictions apply):
All persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law. . . . Unjust discrimination against a person on the grounds of the difference in origin, race, language, sex, age, disability, physical or health condition, personal status, economic or social standing, religious belief, education or political view that does not violate the provisions of this constitution, or any other ground shall be prohibited.

A person has the liberty to practice state-approved religions:
A person shall enjoy full liberty to profess a religion, and shall enjoy the liberty to observe or perform rites according to own religion, provided that it shall not be prejudicial to the duties of Thai people, be harmful to the security of the State, and be contrary to the public order or good morals of people.

A person shall enjoy freedom of speech, unless we don’t like what you’re saying:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his opinion, make speech, write, print, publicize, and make expression by other means. Restriction on such liberty shall not be permitted, except by virtue of the provisions of the law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, protecting the rights or liberties of other persons, maintaining public order or good morals of people, or safeguarding the health of the people.

Academic freedom is guaranteed if the topic isn’t too sensitive:
Academic freedom shall be protected, provided that the exercise of such freedom shall not be contrary to the duties of Thai people or good morals of people and shall respect and not impede differing opinions of other persons.

We guarantee the right to peaceful assembly, just not right now or any time in the foreseeable future:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to assemble peacefully and without arms. Restriction on the liberty under Paragraph One shall be prohibited, except by virtue of the provisions of the law enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, public safety, public order or good morals of people, or protecting the rights or liberties of other persons.

Royalists can form political parties. Republicans, not so much . . . . :
A person shall enjoy the liberty to unite and establish a political party in conformity with democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, as required by law.

This again:
A person shall have the following duties: (1) to uphold the Nation, religions, the King, and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State;

The army will protect the Royal Instituiton from the people:
The State shall protect and uphold the Royal Institution, the independence, the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the territory under sovereignty of Thailand, the national prestige and interests, the security of the State, and the public order of people. For the purpose herein, the State shall arrange for the efficacy of armed forces, diplomacy and intelligence. The armed forces shall also serve in the national development.

“Sufficiency economy.” Check.
The State shall organize the economic system that allows people to comprehensively, fairly and sustainably benefit from economic growth and to become self-reliant according to the philosophy of sufficiency economy, . . .

The Ministry of Truth (just kidding! We’ll call it something else):
The State shall promote accurate knowledge and understanding of people and communities in relation to the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, and their participation in various aspects of the national development, inpublic services at the national and the local levels, in examination of the exercise of State power, in combating the corruption and misconduct, in political decision making, and in all matters that may affect the people or the communities.

This sounds like an actual political function:
The King has the prerogative to dissolve the House of Representatives for a new election of members of the House.

A (self-?)appointed Senate:
The Senate shall consist of two hundred members selected among themselves of persons who possess knowledge, expertise, experience, profession, or common characteristic or interest, or who work or have worked in diverse fields of the society.

Senators cannot be politicians!
Members of the Senate shall have the qualifications and shall not fall under the prohibitions as described here under: . . . (4) being a member of a political party; (5) holding or having held any position in a political party, unless he or she has vacated office in the political party for not less than five years up to the date of application; . . . A member of the Senate shall not be sided with or yielded to the mandate of any political party.

Representatives cannot be Taksin Shinawatra:
A person falling under any of the following prohibitions shall have no right to be a candidate in an election of members of the House of Representatives: . . . (3) being the owner or a shareholder in newspaper business or any mass media; (4) being disfranchised from exercising the right to vote pursuant to Section 96 (1), (2) or (4); (5) being under temporary suspension of applying for candidacy in an election or having been revoked of the right to apply for candidacy in an election; (6) having been sentenced to imprisonment by a court and being detained by a court warrant; . . . (8) having been expelled from the official service, a State agency or a State enterprise on the ground of malfeasance or be regarded as corruption in the official service; (9) having been sentenced by a final judgment or order of a court to have his or her assets vested in the State on the ground of unusual wealth, or having been sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment on the ground of committing an offence under the law on prevention and suppression of corruption; (10) having been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing wrongful conduct in official duties or justice affairs, or committing an offence under the law on the wrongful acts of officials in State organizations or State agencies, or an offence against property in bad faith according the Criminal Code, or an offence under the law on (13) being sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment of a court, notwithstanding the suspension of punishment . . .

More fun stuff to come. You can read an English-language translation of the Thai draft constitution at this link:

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