It’s always nice to be a hero. One that everyone can look to as an example, look up to as someone to strive to be, and grateful that you are alive to be there in a time of need. Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis thinks that she is one of these people. Although, some would say she thinks even higher of herself, and the case is there to prove it. Davis, in almost every sense of the word,…
Under Thailand’s new constitution, the military does not have
to carry out a coup d’état; the coup has already been written in to
Last Saturday, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) concluded
its duties, releasing the second and final draft of Thailand’s
After the release of the first draft in April, the CDC collected
comments from the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), the
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the National Reform Council
(NRC) to make a revision of the draft. Reading through the final draft
reveals notable changes, many of which have major implications.
The upcoming constitution is divided into four main parts; the rights
and liberties of Thais; electoral politics; the rule of law, the
judiciary, and watchdog agencies; and reform and reconciliation.
The first part resembles that of its 1997 and 2007 predecessors. It
covers all standard human and civil rights. However, in contrary to the
first draft, it is less enthusiastic on the idea of building a good
Although the text still demands a long list of desirable behaviors,
the CDC abandoned the controversial National Ethics and the Citizen
councils, which had been assigned the duty of screening the ethical
standard of political office holders.
The second part, elections and public administration, remains largely
unchanged from the previous version. MPs will be elected from the
Mixed-Member Propositional electoral system to ensure more chances for
smaller parties to get in, hence a more fragile government.
The Senate is half-elected and half-nominated. Nomination is
complicated because nominees come from different sources; high-ranking
civil servants and military top brasses, representatives of professional
guilds and non-governmental organisations, and ethical experts from
various fields. The prime minister, despite heavy public criticism,
still need not be from an election.
More interesting is the third part concerning the rule of law and
judicial review. In April, the CDC proposed that, for better
transparency, the judicial commission that oversees administration,
promotion, and disciplinary action of judicial personnel, shall consist
of no less than one-third of non-judge members. The proposal stirred
huge backlash and the CDC had to retreat.
The uproar stemmed from the fear that more layperson membership would
allow political influence in the administration of justice. The
judiciary was successful in warning the CDC, quite harshly, how
sensitive the judicial institution feels toward any threat to its
independence, no matter how trivial that threat may be.
In general, the judicial turf remains unchanged or even expanded.
In an attempt to avoid populist policies, the constitution draft
commands the Administrative Court to establish a new division of fiscal
and budgetary disciplines.
All watchdog agencies are placed under the title “the Constitutional
Agency to Audit the Exercise of State Power.” Interestingly they are
stripped of the word “independent” once given to them by the 1997
Constitution where they first appeared.
The strangest change in the second draft is the combination of a
nomination committee of these watchdog agencies. In contrast to the 2007
Constitution, which heavily involved the judiciary in the nomination
process, the current draft tried to re-balance by introducing
representatives from both sides in the parliament as well as a rector
from a public university and a president of local councils.
But the nomination committee also requires a representative from the
Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry, and Banking. This
committee is a tri-partite panel consisting of the Chamber of Commerce,
the Federation of Thai Industry, and the Thai Bankers Association. This
might indicate increasing influence from powerful business corporations,
many of which are part of the elitist network that funds the
anti-Shinwatra movement and the present junta.
Originally the CDC decided to merge the National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC) and the Ombudsman into the new rights protecting body.
While the NHRC protested that the decision failed to conform to the
international standard, the public saw this as a punishment the NHRC
deserved for its inertia and bias over previous political crises.
Finally, the CDC changed its mind and kept the two as separate bodies.
The CDC also added more severity to an impeachment. An impeachment
automatically revokes the political rights of a convicted politician for
five years already. But if an impeachment is based on the likelihood of
corruption, that politician shall be barred from taking a political
office permanently according to the final draft.
The fourth part, where the draft draws most criticisms, is titled
“Reform and Reconciliation.” To begin with, the reconciliation chapter
is no longer in the Constitution. It shall be described in the organic
law on reconciliation which will be prepared by the NLA.
The CDC then made a radical change in the reform blueprint. The first
draft created by the National Reform Council consisted of several
experts from various fields to spearhead the reform task. The second
draft reassigned the duty to the National Strategic Reform Commission
(NSRC) in which all commanders of the army, navy, air-force, and police
sit alongside experts whom the NLA appoints.
This NSRC is similar to a politburo that oversees and controls the
elected government. It has the power to initiate reform policies that
constitutionally oblige successive governments. Worse, if the NSRC deems
that the country is in crisis, after a consultation with the President
of the Constitutional Court and the President of the Supreme
Administrative Court, it can intervene “as necessary.”
The language is worryingly vague so it draws no limits to the
exercise of this ultimate power. Moreover, this emergency power receives
absolute impunity under the new Constitution. The NSRC is then
perceived by the public as an attempt by the junta to linger on after a
general election. Under the new constitution, the military does not have
to carry out a coup d’état because the coup has already been written in
Because the CDC operated in secrecy, no one reliably knows the true
explanation for each change in the final draft. But it seems that the
moralistic constitution pleased no one, so in order for the draft to be
approved, the CDC had to be less radical. It has to compromise to the
wishes of those independent bodies and its “employer,” the junta.
Details are delegated to the NLA to decide in a form of organic laws
as well as ordinary statutes. The only major resistance now is from the
three main political parties, which realise that their victory in the
next election will be meaningless.
Although it becomes less obsessed with moral absolutism, the
constitution draft reflects more obviously the wish of the elites to
entrench their power in Thai politics. It contains several flashpoints
for political deadlocks and manipulation.
At the moment, the fate of the constitution draft depends on the NRC.
If the NRC accepts the draft, it will proceed to the referendum in
early 2016. If not, the CDC will be disbanded and the junta must appoint
another commission to draft another one. That will delay the junta’s
roadmap to return democracy to this country.
But the junta should be worry-free. Whatever the vote result will be, these soldiers will haunt Thai politics for years to come.
Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang is a constitutional law scholar in Thailand.
…They say but, take this into mind.
Our 2nd amendment is there to protect our rights and our lives from both foreign and DOMESTIC. Our “militia” is funded by the people but, they get deployed more by the government then ordinary soldiers. The national guard are just soldiers NOT here for our interest alone. They are not truely goin to protect our freedom. We have too. This is why gun rights exsist to Protect the rest of our rights, to protect us from a currupt government.
“the government should be afraid of it’s people.” Not the other way around.
Let’s NOT be victims. And if YOU don’t mind being a victim. I won’t be a victim so don’t try to impose you’re narrow minded views on my life. Both foreign and domestic.
Maryland’s DNA-collection statute could help solve crimes—but that doesn’t justify violating an arrestee’s Fourth Amendment rights. “No matter the degree of invasiveness, suspicionless searches are never allowed if their principal end is ordinary crimesolving,” he declared. He also nodded to the law’s more sinister implications in the aggregate. “Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise,” Scalia concluded. “But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.”
August 19th, 1812 | USS Constitution Defeats HMS Guerriere
1785, and a fledgling America has a bit of a problem: the Barbary corsairs were making a right royal pain in the ass of themselves. Sure, the 17th Century was the height of their pirating-like ways, but even as late as 1785, they were proving to be a nuisance to the rest of the world. Operating out of the ports Salé, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli; the Mediterranean was not a safe place to be plowing a merchant vessel through, or – for that matter – a place to live on the coast, lest you find yourself in shackles and sold off as a slave.
Let’s just say that the Mediterranean was not a particularly safe place to strap on some waterwings and take a dip.
Or West Africa’s entire Atlantic seaboard.
Or the North Atlantic.
Or even South America, for that matter.
Basically, if you were a modern, forward-thinking country, and you wanted to sail your rich little cargo over to someone willing to buy it, odds on back then, it might get intercepted by the Barbary corsairs and half-hitched into their floating bags-of-holding. Your lewts, they belongs to them. kthxbye.
And this was a right royal pain in the bank account for America. In 1793 alone, eleven American ships were captured and their crews and stores held for ransom, and that’s not the type of thing that you can balance out in your Excel spreadsheet. This was a serious problem, serious enough to get the big-wigs in Independence Hall all of a do as they considered what the heck they were going to do about it.
They decided on six of these guys:
Now, granted, this may not look like much … your run of the mill frigate with enough firepower to give a Barbary pirate pause for concern … but looks can be ever-so deceiving.
The designer of this fine looks vessel was one Joshua Humphreys, and Humphreys had a bold plan in mind. You see, while the older, more established European countries were floating around in 100-gun vessels such as this:
She has 112 freaking guns of face-ripping hell.
Humphreys’ vision was this:
Long, slim, fast as a little jack rabbit, and yet armed like a rabid American gun-nut riding an eagle.
The design was never intended to go toe-to-toe with a 1st Rate ship of the line – against those she’d escape as fast as the winds could carry her – but against anything of her size, she’d rip them a whole new one.