Senator Somchai Swangkarn considers legal action after dissertation critiqued


Senator Somchai Swangkarn is considering legal action after iLaw accused him of "copying and pasting" information from various sources for his doctoral dissertation.

Somchai admitted missing references in the dissertation’s literature review but claimed the error has been fixed.

He said allegations made by iLaw, an activist organisation in the field of civil liberties, claiming that he plagiarised information for his dissertation, are "untrue”.

He asserts that he conducted the research for his dissertation himself, focusing on the topic of the process of appointing senators, which he has been studying since 2008 during his public-law studies and continued into his doctoral studies. He has always been interested in this matter, he said.

His dissertation includes interviews with various people, including those involved in drafting the constitutions of 1997, 2007 and 2017, as well as former MPs and senators with both concurring and dissenting views.

Additionally, it incorporates focus-group interviews with scholars and members of the public, along with the design of questionnaires for hundreds of respondents, to analyse the 2017 Constitution alongside its predecessors and foreign articles.

However, Somchai agreed that minor errors had occurred but insisted they have been rectified. These occurred in footnotes and bibliographies, namely citations in the literature review related to the work of a particular researcher from a certain institution.

Somchai said the problematic sections were not related to the research itse lf but were part of the literature review, which is a standard component of general research.

However, he admitted that there were indeed publication errors.

"We have requested permission for correction and have already made the necessary amendments. The corrections have been approved and can be verified on the website of the Thammasat University library. Permission for correction was requested and has been granted," he said.

Somchai emphasised that a literature review is not research. Any academic or researcher who reads this dissertation will understand that it is not a case of plagiarism or copying and pasting research, as alleged by iLaw.

Document errors have been approved for correction, so it is considered complete. Therefore, iLaw's presentation may be considered misleading information that may cause damage. In the meantime, evidence is being gathered to determine whether legal action will be pursued.

"The parts where iLaw's writings are referenced are akin to quoting from newspapers or libraries. Credit is given to them because it is deemed beneficial to incorporate their work. That's all. This is not copying and pasting theses for sure,” Somchai said.