Thailand’s first constitution

24 06 2021

In celebrating 24 June and the 1932 revolution, PPT reproduces Thailand’s the country’s first (interim) constitution. King Prajadhipok signed it, but scrawled “draft” on it, a first effort to undermine the new regime and setting in train Thailand’s never-ending tinkering with constitutions.

Pridi

Pridi

This translation is from Pridi on Pridi. Apologies for any errors in transcribing it:

PROVISIONAL CONSTITUTION OF THE KINGDOM OF SIAM, 1932

King Prajadhipok issues a royal command as follows. As the People’s Party has called for him to be under the constitution of the Kingdom of Siam so that the country may progress, and as he has welcomed the call of the People’s Party, he graciously enacts a law with the following clauses.

SECTION 1: GENERAL MATTERS
Clause 1. The supreme power in the country belongs to the people.

Clause 2. The persons and groups mentioned below will execute power on behalf of the people as specified in the constitution that follows:
1. The king (least)
2. The Assembly of Representatives of the People
3. The Committee of the People
4. The courts

SECTION 2. THE KING
Clause 3. The king is the supreme head of state. legislative acts, court decisions, and other matters as specified by law must be made in the name of the long.

Clause 4. The person who is king of the country is King Prajadhipok. The succession will proceed in accordance with the Royal Household Law on the Succession of 1924 and with the approval of the Assembly.

Clause 5. If there is any reason that the king is unable temporarily to carry out his duties, or is not in the capital, the Committee of the People will execute the right on his behalf.

Clause 6. The king cannot be charged in a criminal court. The responsibility for a judgment rests with the Assembly.

Clause 7. Any action of the king must have the signature of any one member of the Committee of the People that it has been approved by the Assembly, otherwise it is void.

SECTION 3. THE ASSEMBLY OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE
Part 1. Powers and duties.
Clause 8. The Assembly has the power to pass all legislation. Such legislation comes into force once promulgated by the king. If the long does not promulgate within seven days counted from the day of passage in the Assembly and shows reason for not agreeing to affix his signature, he has the power to return the legislation to the Assembly for reconsideration. If the Assembly passes a resolution the same as before, and the long does not concur, the Assembly has the power to promulgate that legislation to have the force of law.

Clause 9. The Assembly has the power to take care of the affairs of the country, and has the power to call a meeting to dismiss a member of the Committee of the People or any official of the government.

Part 2. Representatives of the people
Clause 10. Members of the Assembly of Representatives of the People will be by time period as follows:

Period I. From the time this constitution is enforced until the time when members of the second period take office, the People’s Party which has a military force protecting the capital, has the power to appoint seventy persons as provisional members of the Assembly.
Period 2. Within six months, or when the country has been made normal and orderly, there will be two types of Members of the Assembly working jointly, namely:

Type 1. Persons elected by the people, one per province, or for provinces with over 100,000 persons, one member for every 100,000 inhabitants, and a further one if the remainder is more than half that number.
Type 2. Members from period 1 up to the same number as members of type 1. If the number is in excess, they shall choose among themselves who shall remain members. If the number falls short, those remaining shall choose any persons to make up the number.

Period 3. When the number of people throughout the kingdom who have passed elementary education exceeds half the total, or at the latest within ten years of the implementation of the constitution, members of the Assembly must all be persons elected by the people. Type-2 members will no longer exist.

Clause 11. The qualifications for those standing for election as type-1 members are:

i. passed a political course in accordance with a syllabus which the Assembly will establish;
ii. aged twenty years and above;
iii. not incapable or seemingly incapable;
iv. not deprived of the right to vote by a court of law;
v. of Thai nationality by law;
vi. those standing for election as type-1 members in period 2 must be approved by members during period 1 that they are not people likely to cause disorder.

Clause 12. Election of type-1 members in period 2 shall take place as follows:

i. inhabitants of a village elect a representative for electing a tambon representative;
ii. the village representatives elect a tambon representative;
iii. the tambon representatives elect the members of the Assembly.
For Assembly election in period 3, a law will be passed subsequently on the procedure for direct election of members of the Assembly.

Clause 13. Type-1 members will serve for terms of four years counted from the day of assuming office. But when period 3 is reached, members from period 2, even if they have not yet been in the position for four years, must relinquish the position from the day that the period-3 members assume office. If a member’s position falls vacant for reasons other than the end of the term, the members shall elect another to fill the vacancy, but the new member shall hold the post only for the remainder of the term of the member who is replaced.

Clause 14. Persons of whatever sex who meet the following qualifications have the right to cast their vote to choose village representatives:

i. aged twenty years and above;
ii. not incapable or seemingly incapable;
iii. not deprived of the right to vote by a court of law;
iv. of Thai nationality by law.

The qualifications for representatives of the village and of the tambon are the same as those laid down in clause 11.

Clause 15. The election of representatives shall be by simple majority. If votes are tied, a second election shall be held. If votes are tied on the second occasion, a neutral person shall be appointed to give a casting vote. The candidates shall appoint the neutral person.

Clause 16. Apart from relinquishment at end of term, members must relinquish office if they fail to meet the qualification in clause 11, if they pass away, or if the Assembly decides that the member has caused damage to the Assembly.

Clause 17. Criminal charges against a member of the Assembly must be sanctioned by the Assembly before the court may adopt the case.

Part 3: Regulations for meetings
Clause 18. Members of the Assembly shall select one person as chairman to conduct the affairs of the Assembly, and one vice-chairman to act on the chairman’s behalf when the chairman has temporary reasons for not fulfilling his duty.

Clause 19. When the chairman is absent or unable to attend, the vice-chairman will maintain the orderliness of the Assembly on his behalf and will manage the deliberations according to regulations.

Clause 20. If both the chairman and vice-chairman are not in the meeting, the members attending shall elect a temporary chairman.

Clause 21. Arrangements for ordinary meetings are the responsibility of the Assembly. A special meeting may be held when requested by no fewer than fifteen members, or by the Committee of the People. The chairman or his substitute shall call the meeting.

Clause 22. Every meeting must be attended by no fewer than half of the total number of members to have a quorum.

Clause 23. Motions on any subject shall be decided by simple majority with each member casting one vote. If the vote is tied, the chairman shall have an additional casting vote.

Clause 24. Members shall not be held liable for any statement or opinion made, and shall not be sued for any matter arising from a vote cast in the meetings.

Clause 25. In every meeting, the chairman must command the Assembly’s officials to keep a record; submit it for the members to check, amend, and approve; and the chairman of the meeting must affix his signature.

Clause 26. The Assembly has the power to appoint sub-committees to perform any task, or to examine and report on any matter to the Assembly for further decision. If the Assembly does not appoint the chairman of a sub-committee, the members of the sub-committee shall elect their own. A sub-committee has the power to invite others to offer explanations and opinions. The sub-committee members and such invitees shall be covered by the provisions of clause 24. Meetings of sub-committees must be attended by no fewer than three persons to achieve a quorum, except in the case of sub-committees which have only three members, in which case two persons shall constitute a quorum.

Clause 27. The Assembly has the power to establish rules of procedure in accordance with this constitution (at the initial stage, the rules of the Committee of the Privy Council may be adapted, but only those that are not in conflict with this constitution).

SECTION 4: THE COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE
Part 1: Powers and duties

Clause 28. The Committee of the People has the powers and duties to act in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly.

Clause 29. If there is any urgent matter over which the Committee cannot call a meeting of the Assembly in time, and if the Committee sees it fitting to issue a law appropriate to that urgent matter, it can do so but must quickly submit that law for the approval of the Assembly.

Clause 30. The Committee of the People has the power to grant pardon but must first seek royal approval.

Clause 31. The ministers of various ministries are responsible to the Committee of the People on all matters. Anything which infringes an order or regulation of the Committee of the People or is done without the sanction of the constitution, shall be considered void.

Part 2. Members of the Committee of the People and regular officials

Clause 32. Membership of the Committee of the People consists of one Chairman and fourteen other members, totaling fifteen.

Clause 33. The Assembly shall elect one of its members as the Chairman of the Committee, and that Chairman shall select fourteen other members of the Assembly to be members of the Committee. When this selection has been approved by the Assembly, it shall be held that those selected are committee members of the Assembly. If the Assembly considers that a committee member has not conducted affairs according to the policy of the Assembly, the Assembly has the power to invite that committee member to relinquish his duty and to select a new member as above.

Clause 34. If any Committee member for any reason lacks the qualifications laid down for members of the Assembly in clause 10, or has died, the Assembly shall select a replacement. If the Assembly has selected Committee members, and if that Assembly comes to the end of its term, the Committee shall also be considered to have come to the end of its term.

Clause 35. The appointment and removal of ministers is in the power of the king. This power shall be used only on the advice of the Committee of the People.

Clause 36. Political negotiations with overseas countries are the duty of the Committee of the People and the Committee may appoint a representative for this. The Committee must report negotiations on any point to the king. Ratification of any international treaty is in the power of the long, but that power shall be used on the advice of the Committee of the People.

Clause 37. Declaration of war is in the power of the king, but that power shall be used on the advice of the Committee of the People.

Part 3. Regulations of meetings

Clause 38. Regulations of the meetings of the Committee of the People shall be adapted as in section 3.

SECTION 5: COURTS

Clause 39. The revocation of a judgment shall proceed according to the law in current use.

Promulgated on 27 June 1932 and in force henceforth.
(signed) Prajadhipok
Ananta Samakhom Hall
3 July 1932





Pridi and The King of the White Elephant

23 06 2021

By Pridi Productions, The King of the White Elephant was made in 1940, as war approached in the region. It was essentially anti-war, reflective of debates in the country at the time. Some argue that the themes played out during the war and are reflected in Pridi’s own war-time role.

There are two versions of the film that have been restored. One is about 100 minutes in length:

The other is about 50 minutes:

There’s also a related book, by Pridi, available for free download.





Pridi and 1932

22 06 2021

Pridi on PridiWith that date approaching again, royalists are on alert.

As part of celebrating 24 June 1932, over the next couple of days, PPT is going to list some English-language sources that are available. One resource we consider indispensable is Pridi on Pridi, translated and edited some 20 years ago by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit.

Pridi on Pridi can be downloaded from Openbase in Thailand and from Library Genesis.

As writings by Pridi, some in new translation and some new translations, these contributions reveal much about Pridi, 1932, and his life.





Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.





Loss of moral and political compass

4 10 2020

Pridi Banomyong’s university is under the control of feeble-minded royalist administrators. Born of the 1932 revolution, Thammasat began in 1934 as the University of Moral and Political Sciences.

The news that political activists Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Arnon Nampahave been banned by Thammasat administrators from speaking at a forum marking the 44th anniversary of the Oct 6, 1976 massacre demonstrates that today’s administrators have no moral and political compass.

It is the students who maintain the university’s heritage.

An organizer of the forum, Krisadang Nutcharus said “the university executives had offered no explanation, only saying they felt uncomfortable with the presence of the three pro-democracy leaders at the forum.”

Of course, everyone knows that they feel uncomfortable because the three activists have called for reform of the monarchy.

Krisadang offered “his apology that the three will not be able to share their thoughts,” and observed that this ban “makes us understand the attitudes, views and cowardice of these executives…”.

He added that in 1976, “the young had sacrificed their lives during the massacre to protect rights and democracy. He said they fell because they had differing opinions.” The current administrators reject this history in favor of repression, military-dominated government and feudalism.





Remembering 1932 in 2020

24 06 2020

24 June 1932 is an important day in Thailand. The palace, royalists and military have persistently worked to erase it from the national historical memory.

Back in 2009 on 24 June, PPT marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Banomyong. We do so again today.

On that day in 1932, the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed a well-planned Revolution to end the absolute power of the monarchy.

24 June is an important day for those who have long struggled to establish parliamentary democracy in the country only to see their efforts repeatedly crushed by military and monarchy.

Lopburi vandalism 1

Clipped from Khaosod

For anti-democrats and royalists, 24 June is a day they want to expunge. It recalls a thirst for democracy and is the essence of anti-monarchism in Thailand. The king has been working with the junta-cum-post-junta-regime (of crooks and generals) to destroy memorials and monuments to 1932. History books have been changed. Properties previously removed from the monarchy have reverted to the present monarch.

democracy in ruins

24 June used to be celebrated. Now, the event is barely officially noticed, except for the purposes of repression and preventing people from acknowledging the day and its events.

If royalists remember 24 June for anything it is to diminish the significance of the events of 1932 and declare that King Prajadiphok was the real democrat. Of course, he wasn’t, and he supported several efforts to overthrow the new regime before abdicating.

The 2017 constitution and the changes demanded by King Vajiralongkorn represent a further rolling back of the People’s Party notion of people’s sovereignty.

As we do each year, we invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if uttered or published today.

Overthrowing a royalist regime is as important in 2020 as it was in 1932.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY NO. 1 (1932)

Pridi

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon

[People’s Party]

24 June 1932





Updated: 1931 moves closer

10 10 2019

A defining feature of recent royalism and especially of this king’s (still short) reign has been the rolling back of limits on the monarchy’s “prestige.” That has meant expunging the changes that made for a constitutional monarchy. It is clear to PPT that King Vajiralongkorn wants his reign to mark a return to the monarch’s economic and political power prior to the 1932 revolution.

The king has made it clear that he hates the limits on his power. He has demanded and got changes to the junta’s constitution – the changes made in secret – and taken full personal control of the monarchy’s treasure and made the Crown Property Bureau his own, expunging even the minor limits on what he could do with his property and huge wealth. Those limits were imposed after 1932 (and watered down under his father).

The king has grabbed land that he reckons belongs to his royal family and that was “lost” after 1932. New laws in 2018 gave the king enormous power to grab land.

The king has vastly expanded his political power by taking control of large police and Army units – up to regiment size – for his and his family’s “protection.” Most recently, this has involved the illegal use of emergency powers in the constitution.

At the same time, the obsessive–compulsive king has promoted retro-fashion that favors pre-1932 uniforms, haircuts and attire. Personally, he has promoted royal polygamy.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Why are we recounting all of this? One reason is because the king has, with the support of the military junta and now supported by the post-junta military-backed government, he’s gotten away with all of this with barely a peep of dissent. (Of course, dissenters are threatened, jailed, disappeared, tortured and murdered.)

Under this king there’s also been a concerted effort to expunge the symbols of 1932. It wasn’t that long ago that a monument to the defeat of the royalist restorationist rebellion in 1933.

Known as the Boworadej Rebellion, it was led by Prince Boworadej and supported by the anti-democratic King Prajadhipok.

The king, probably reflecting the influence of his grandmother’s and his mother’s family’s hatred of the 1932 People’s Party revolution, the king has demanded that the military adopt symbols of the pre-1932 royal family.

The most recent effort has involved the Army’s celebration of leaders of that rebellion – a coup – who engaged in treason and mutiny.

It is reported that:

two halls in the army’s museum are named after royalist rebels who attempted to overthrow an elected government eight decades ago.

Clipped from Khaosod

Prince Bovoradej and Phraya Si Sitthisongkhram, who led the 1933 failed revolt, now grace the two rooms at the Royal Thai Army headquarters’ newly renovated museum, which honors illustrious figures in army history. The rooms were inaugurated today by none other than Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong.

The Army “said the naming was meant to honor the two men for their loyalty to the monarchy…”.

The Army has tried to downplay this move, but no one should be fooled. This is yet another nail in the coffin of the constitutional monarchy as the king pushes for a neo-feudal political arrangement.

A democracy activist, Abhisit Sapnaphapan wrote:

“This is a declaration that even though they did not succeed that day … their legacies are being continued today…. Welcome to the old regime of absolute monarchy.”

Another observed: “Thai people united and brought down Bovoradej’s revolt to defend their constitution, yet Tuu [Gen Prayuth] is naming a meeting room after Bovoradej…”.

It is late 2019 but 1931 seems just around the corner.

Update: Readers might find an interview with Pridi Phanomyong from 1977 of some interest. It has emerged from behind a paywall, here.





With 3 updates: On (the real) National Day

24 06 2019

Back in 2009 on 24 June, PPT marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Phanomyong. We do so again today.

Pridi

In 2009 we noted that in recent years the anniversary of the event was barely noticed among the cacophony surrounding the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries.

In this reign and under the military junta, there has been a determined attempt to erase the symbols of 1932 and to erase anti-monarchism.

Royalists and the king seek to erase an event they consider horrendous for reducing royal powers and granting sovereignty to common people. Of course, for many years, the royalist aim has been to push the events of 1932 from the public agenda and to “forget” that the 1932 overthrow of the absolute monarchy.

As we did in 2009, we invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if the mad monarchists could get away with it.

PPT has extracted and lightly edited this document from the excellent book Pridi on Pridi, translated by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, and published by Silkworm Books. It is available from the Pridi/Phoonsuk website.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY NO. 1 (1932)

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon
[People’s Party]
24 June 1932

Update 1: Pravit Rojanaphruk at Khaosod has a useful op-ed on the real National Day. He says that “Today, only history buffs and pro-democracy activists care to mark the day as one of the most important in the Kingdom’s history. Few newspapers have mentioned it this year.” We don’t think that’s entirely true. PPT has met many who remember the day, but they dare not do much about it in royalist Thailand. Then this:

What’s more, some important relics of the 1932 revolt have mysteriously disappeared. A brass plaque at the Royal Plaza marking the June 24 revolt went missing in 2016, only to be replaced by a new plaque extolling royalist ideology. No one has claimed responsibility.

At the end of last year, something even larger disappeared. The Constitution Defense Monument at Bangkok’s Lak Si intersection, which was at least three-stories tall, was removed. Again, no one was held responsible and the majority of the Thai press neglected to report the incident. The monument had marked the defeat of a royalist rebellion which sought to restore absolute monarchy.

It’s almost as if the day never existed, which says a lot about today’s Thailand.

Now, the press extols the virtues of royalist ideology instead….

Update 2: Seemingly making Pravit’s last point, the Bangkok Post produced an atrociously royalist and unnecessarily nasty attack on those who don’t think like Patcharawalai Sanyanusin and other mad monarchists. While the attack is couched in terms that suggest something milder, this op-ed is one of the ugliest we have read in the Post for some time.

Meanwhile, Thai PBS marked the day with a schizophrenic piece that acknowledges 1932 but then lists the role of monarchs after that event. Nor does it discuss why National Day was changed to King Bhumibol’s birthday by a military dictatorship in 1960. It is breathtakingly royalist.

Showing that 1932 remains a potent political symbol, Khaosod reports on “Opposition politicians … marking the 87th year since the birth of Thai democracy by calling for charter amendments aimed at ridding the junta’s influence.” Likely to cause royalists even more angst, it is reported that:

In an online post, the Future Forward Party said the 1932 revolt inspired Thais to seek not only a constitution to govern their country, but one guaranteeing rights, liberty and equality among citizens.

“Not every constitution is a ‘constitution’ by itself,” the party’s statement said. “Some documents that they are trying to describe as a ‘constitution’ may never really constitute a constitution, because they lack the principles we discussed.”

Update 3: What is it with the “new” Bangkok Post? Has it been decided that it has to be triumphantly royalist? As far as we can tell, 24 June came and went with not a peep from the elite’s newspaper, except for a nasty snipe at anti-monarchists. Now, two days later, it comes up with a story of “Siam on the world stage.” Nothing to do with 1932, but about Siam’s royals belatedly deciding to join the allies in WW1, not doing anything much at all, but getting in on the peace deal. So what’s the big deal? Nothing much at all. It is a footnote in anyone’s serious history. But, it is celebrated now because it is about royals and their doings. Pile it high!





Updated: Rampaging royalists

6 03 2019

Thai PBS reports that the campaign against the Future Forward Party is being led by some royals and royalists.

A few days ago we posted on Boonthaworn Panyasit of “People Protecting the Constitution,” petitioned the junta’s Election Commission to recommend dissolving the party to the Constitutional Court.

Boonthaworn, a loyalist royalist, accused Future Forward of “behaviour against the monarchy…”. He slammed the party opposition to the lese majeste law and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for claiming that Future Forward would complete the mission of 1932 and the People’s Party.

That particular loyalist royalism has now been taken up by ultra-royalists and most notably the princely Gen Mom Chao Chulcherm Yugala. In fact, as soon as the party was formed, the rightist Gen Mon Chao was accusing its leaders of republicanism.

He’s continuing that, trying to smear the party, saying completing the mission of 1932 amounts to a plan to abolish the monarchy. As much as we at PPT might hope for that, we don’t think Future Forward stands for that. But its mildly reformist agenda scares the silk chong kraben off the prince and his buddies.

The Gen Mon Chao reckons the “mission of the 1932 coup [sic.] makers was to overthrow the [m]onarchy.” Going back, way back, Gen Mom Chao Chulcherm sounds so 1930s when he accuses the People’s Party of “Bolshevism.” He reckons the Party’s interim constitution was:

modelled after the Bolshevik revolution, adding that the charter was drafted by the coup-makers after the bloody revolution in Russia, which culminated in the massacre of Czar Nicholas II and his entire family and an end of the Russian monarchy in favour of communist rule.

In fact, King Prajadhipok, a famous anti-democrat, did accuse Pridi Phanomyong of Bolshevism for his economic plan.

But the Gen Mom Chao goes deeper into history, claiming the “Future Forward party has made clear and did not hide its policy, modelled on the French revolution, to overthrow the Monarchy.”

We have previously observed that “loyalty” now demands the erasing of 1932, as has been seen in actions by the monarchy-military alliance over the past couple of years. But in his rabid criticism, the serene prince is more boisterous, clamorous, raucous, tumultuous, and woolly than serene. His claims revive debates from the 1920s and 1930s. Who would have thought that an election in 2019 would involve the same debates as almost 100 years ago. But, then, Thai royalism is antiquated.

Update: Future Forward say they are taking legal action against the not so serene general prince.





Expunging Pridi and 1932

16 11 2018

Pridi

Readers may be interested in a new article at Southeast Asia Globe. “How Thailand’s ‘Father of Democracy’ is being erased from history” by Paul Millar.

The article, including quotes and comments from Ji Unpakorn  and academic Kevin Hewison, discusses the ongoing activities under the military junta and King Vajiralongkorn to roll back 1932 and to erase memories of that revolution and the reputation of Pridi Phanomyong.

While PPT has posted on this general topic several times (here, here, here and here), this article is well worth consideration.








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