affiliated to the International Association of Constitutional Law
Last night, the UK Constitutional Law Group co-sponsored an event in London to launch Peter Leyland and Andrew Harding’s The Constitutional System of Thailand: a Contextual Study and Hart Publishing’s the ‘Constitutional Systems of the World’ series.
Speaking to an audience of over 80 people, Andrew Harding said that 10 years ago there was very little constitutional literature available about Thailand outside the country, which has had 18 constitutions since 1932. The book seeks to examine what system underlays these documents. One reason for the high number of constitutions is that after each military coup, the regime seeks to clothe itself in legal immunity and this can only be done with a new constitution.
Peter Leyland spoke about free speech, the lèse-majesté law and the Computer Crime Act. There is, he argued, a clash between old and new values. The laws are used systematically to shut down websites and limit debate.
Duncan McCargo, joining the authors on the panel, suggested that that the political explanation for the lack of constitutional stability was the absence of consensus within Thailand about the legitimate basis for government. He identified three models: constitutionalism; majoritarianism and the desire for strong elected politicians; and virtuous rule, with constitutional monarchy at its heart.
Pictured (L-R): Mr Justice Bean (chair of the panel); Peter Leyland; Andrew Harding. Report by Andrew Le Sueur, co-convenor of the UK Constitutional Law Group.