By THE NATION
He died on Sunday night at home, after having earlier been treated at Chulabhorn Hospital. Kanin was an elected member of the Constitution Drafting Assembly, which wrote the highly praised “People’s Constitution” of 1997. The charter was regarded as one of the country’s most democratic.
Kanin was known for his expertise in legal affairs, political institutions and constitutions. He authored books on the history of Thai constitutions, the top laws of foreign countries, and Thai political reform efforts. Over the course of his political career spanning almost four decades, he was affiliated with many political parties.
A senior legal expert of the Pheu Thai Party, Kanin headed its working group assigned to monitor the drafting of the current 2017 Constitution. He became a staunch critic of the current charter, which came into effect in April last year. He pointed to certain clauses viewed as weaknesses or troublesome in the draft constitution before it was put to a national referendum in August 2016.
Pheu Thai’s secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai said yesterday that he had last called on Kanin on Saturday. “I learned that his condition was in the final stage. But I did not think [his passing] would be so soon,” he said.
Born on October 15, 1946, in Chon Buri province, Kanin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Thammasat University, and a master’s in the same field from the University of Houston in the US.
Before entering politics, he worked as an official at Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Parliament Secretariat, and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board.
In 1979, at the age of 33, he contested a general election under the Social Action Party and became an MP for his home province of Chon Buri. Six years later, he ran under the Democrat Party and was elected an MP for Bangkok.
Following the Black May incident in 1992, which led to the dissolution of the House of Representatives that was just elected in March that year, Kanin contested the election under the Solidarity Party and was again elected an MP from his home province Chon Buri.
In 1996, Kanin was elected a constitution drafter from Chon Buri to sit in the assembly that would write the country’s new charter. The drafting of a new constitution was part of a political reform demanded by the public at that time. The drafting assembly’s 1997 Constitution was a rare charter in not having been written after a military coup. However, that historic charter, popularly called the “People’s Constitution”, was scrapped after the September 2006 coup.