Monday, September 16, 2019

Royal Command against Princess Ubolratana's PM run not legally binding, says law professor 

Mar 02. 2019
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By Kas Chanwanpen
The Nation

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The Royal Command issued by the King against his sister’s nomination as a candidate for prime minister had no legal binding, law professor Sawatree Suksri said on Friday.

Speaking at a public forum “Thai Raksa Chart party's possible dissolution” held at Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Friday, the professor said that considering both the legal system and the regime, the Royal Command issued two weeks ago disapproving the nomination of Princess Ubolratana Mahidol as Thai Raksa Chart Praty’s pm candidate, was not a law.

Thailand generally follows the civil law system, Sawatree said. To consider something a law, it must be written and passed by the legitimate legislative process as well as imposed on all people equally not specifically, she said.

This is unlike the common law system where opinions and past judgements are laws, she said.

The professor said Thailand works under a democracy with constitutional monarchy. The law states that the King can exercise power for the people but it must be through the three branches of power.

Considering these two frameworks, it can be said that the Royal Command was not a law, Sawatree concluded.

She said that another crucial question was whether the Royal Command should have a legal binding effect. The form and the content of the command should be examined, she said.

The Royal Command came out as the King’s personal note, she said, and was not countersigned by any agent in the three branches of power. 

Unless this was about appointing or removing a members of the privy council or the King’s personal servants, she said the command has no legal effect.

Looking at the content, the command addressed the monarchy’s non-partisanship in politics and expressed the King’s disapproval of Princess Ubolratana being involved in it, Sawatree said.

The Royal Command imposed no orders on anyone, she added. So, it can be concluded that it was mere opinion, she said.

However, given the monarchy’s status in the country, it must be admitted that his opinion carries some weight, she said, adding that courts, judges and legal authorities may take on the King’s opinion according to their personal ideology.

Therefore, she said, the authorities should not take the Royal Command as a law if they uphold democracy with a constitutional monarchy.

However, if they leaned towards the absolute monarchy regime, it was likely that they would adopt it as a legislation, she said.

Also speaking at the panel, former Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn viewed the status of the Royal Command differently.

Though Thailand is not ruled by the absolute monarchy regime, the monarchy is still the head of the state, he said, and the Royal Command should be respected. And when it disapproved of the controversial nomination, it must be nullified accordingly, he said.

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