19 January 2017

"The King may appoint
a person as Regent..."

On 15th January, the National Legislative Assembly voted to approve an amendment to the constitution, after King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) requested changes to the articles related to the appointment of a regent. Following the amendment of the interim constitution, the draft constitution will now be revised in the same way.

The articles relating to the appointment of a regent in the interim and draft charters were unchanged from the 2007 constitution: "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" [my emphasis]. The King, via the Privy Council, requested that this be amended to "...the King may appoint a person as Regent," thus making the appointment optional rather than compulsory.

When Prime Minister Prayut announced the amendments, he stressed that "they are not related to the rights and freedoms of the people," as if to justify a constitutional monarch altering the draft after it had been endorsed by 61.35% of voters in last year's referendum. Rama X became King on 1st December last year, seven weeks after the death of his father, King Bhumibol, on 13th October. He and his wife, Srirasmi, separated in 2014, after her parents and siblings were jailed for lèse-majesté.