Privy Council of Thailand

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The Privy Council of Thailand (Thai: คณะองคมนตรีไทย, khana ongkhamontri thai) is a body of appointed advisors to the Monarch of Thailand: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The Council, as the Constitution of Thailand stipulates, must be composed of no more than eighteen members. The Council is led by the president of the Privy Council of Thailand; currently former Prime Minister, 'National Statesman' and Army General Prem Tinsulanonda.[1] The king alone appoints all members of the Council.

Under the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, the Council is given many powers and responsibility, all with regard to the Monarchy of Thailand, and the House of Chakri. The Privy Council's offices are located in the Privy Council Chambers, on Sanamchai Road, Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand.[2]

In recent years the council and its president in particular, has been accused of interfering in politics. This stems from the council's closeness to the military in particular during the 2006 Thai coup d'état.[3]

History[edit]

King Chulalongkorn, educated by Westerners, founded the first Privy Council of Siam.

The first privy council in Siam was established by a Royal Decree on 8 May 1874, by King Chulalongkorn (or Rama V). The king, educated by Westerners was keen on copying the system of government of the absolute monarchs of Europe. At first he created two councils: the "Privy Council of Siam" (Thai: ที่ปฤกษาในพระองค์, thi prueksa nai phra ong) (of 49 Members) and the "Council of State" (Thai: สภาที่ปรึกษาราชการแผ่นดิน, sapha thi prueksa ratchakan phaendin) (of 12 members, name later changed to "Council of Ministers" (Thai: รัฐมนตรีสภา, ratthamontrisapha)). The Privy Council was created to deal with legislative affairs while the latter became an early version of the Cabinet.

Chulalongkorn was succeeded by his son King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in 1910, who at the beginning of his reign appointed a 40 member "Privy Council of State" (Thai: สภากรรมการองคมนตรี, sapha kammakan ongkhamontri). The King during his 15 years on the throne would continue to appoint new members around Thai New Year (or 4 April). When he died in 1925 the Privy Council was composed of 233 members.

King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) who succeeded his brother in 1925, decided to completely overhaul the present system and created instead three councils: The "Supreme Council of State of Siam" (Thai: อภิรัฐมนตรีสภา, aphiratthamontrisapha) (composed of 5 senior Princes, equivalent to the former Council of State), The "Council of Secretaries" (Thai: เสนาบดีสภา, senabodisapha) (former Council of Ministers) and the Privy Council of State. The role of the Privy Council was relegated to minor legislative affairs, while the Supreme Council became Prajadhipok's main body of advisors.[4]

On 24 June 1932, a group calling themselves the Khana Ratsadon (or People's Party) with the military, seized power in Bangkok. They unilaterally abolished the system of absolute monarchy, changing Siam into a parliamentary constitutional monarchy and demanding of Prajadhipok a constitution for the people of Siam. The King granted them a ‘Temporary’ constitution in the same month and a permanent one in December. The Khana Ratsadon, once in power decided to abolish the Supreme Council and the Privy Council. They replaced the Council of Secretaries with the People's Committee of Siam.

It was not until fifteen years later that the 1947 constitution of Siam recreated the Privy Council under King Bhumibol, with a name change to "Supreme Council of State" (Thai: คณะอภิรัฐมนตรี, khana aphiratthamontri). This council existed from 1947 to 1949 and was composed of:

  • Prince Rangsit Prayurasakdi, Prince of Chainat, president of the Council
  • Prince Dhanivat Bidyalabh Bridhyakon
  • Prince Longkorn Adireksorn Udomsakdi
  • Phraya Manovaratsevi
  • Police General Adul Adulyadejchrat

Two years later under the 1949 Constitution of Thailand the Council was renamed "Privy Council of Thailand" (Thai: สภาองคมนตรี, sapha ongkhamontri, or คณะองคมนตรี, khana ongkhamontri). The Privy Council in its current form was created by the 2007 Constitution of Thailand.

Members[edit]

The present constitution stipulated that the council is composed of no more than eighteen members. The members of the Privy Council or Privy Councillors are appointed and removed at the Pleasure of the King alone, however appointments of councillors must be countersigned by the President of the Privy Council.[5]

The councillors cannot be partisan and therefore cannot be member of the: House of Representatives, Senator, Election Commissioner, Ombudsman, member of the National Human Rights Commission, judge of the Constitutional Court, judge of an Administrative Court, member of the National Counter Corruption Commission, member of the State Audit Commission, Government official holding a permanent position or receiving a permanent salary, official of a State enterprise, other State official or holder of other position of member or official of a political party, and must not manifest loyalty to any political party.

After being appointed the councilors must take the following oath in the presence of the king to assume office:

"I, (name of the declarer), do solemnly declare that I will be loyal to His Majesty the King and will faithfully perform my duties in the interests of the country and of the people. I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect."

A councilor vacates office upon death, resignation or removal by a Royal Command.[6]

President[edit]

General Prem Tinsulanonda, 'National Statesman' and President of the Privy Council.

The President of the Privy Council of Thailand is the head and chief councillor of the Privy Council. The king retained the prerogative to appoint and remove the President, however the President of the National Assembly of Thailand must countersign the President's appointment and removal, unlike that concerning other councillors where the king alone decides.[7]

Functions[edit]

The 2007 Constitution gave the Privy Council many roles and powers; these are mostly associated with the issues surrounding the head of state and the Monarchy.

Regency[edit]

If the King is incapacitated or for whatever reason and cannot appoint a Regent, the Privy Council will submit to the National Assembly the name of a suitable individual, who must then be approved by a vote. During the period where there is no regent the President of the Privy Council shall be the Regent pro tempore. This case is also applicable if the Regent is incapacitated and cannot perform his duties. When this happens the President of the Privy Council shall be replaced in his duties to the Council by a president pro tempore.

Palace Law of Succession[edit]

In regards to the amendment of the 1924 Palace Law of Succession, the King must ask the Privy Council to draft an amendment. After the King's approval and signature, the President of the Privy Council will notify the president of the National Assembly that will then countersign such amendment.

Vacancy of the throne[edit]

When the throne becomes vacant it is the duty of the Privy Council to submit to the cabinet and to the National Assembly the name of the Successor to the Throne. During this vacancy period (before the submission) the President of the Privy Council will be the Regent pro tempore.

Other functions[edit]

Apart from these constitutionally mandated functions the Privy Councillors also possess other roles. For instance apart from being members of the Council, the councillors can carry out other duties within the Royal Household and Royal Projects. For example several councillors are also members of the Mahidol Foundation, while Dr. Chaovana Nasylvanta is also the Director of the Crown Property Bureau. Apart from these the councillors can also at time under royal command attend official functions or carry out official duties on behalf of the king or the Royal Family.

The Privy Council of Thailand[edit]

King Bhumibol's Privy Council as of 2012 was composed mostly of retired military leaders and members of the judiciary, they are:

No. Name Thai Name Appointment Notes
1 General Prem Tinsulanonda เปรม ติณสูลานนท์ 4 September 1998 President of the Privy Council of Thailand
2 Dr. Chaovana na Silavanta เชาวน์ ณ ศีลวันต์ 19 December 1975 Director of the Crown Property Bureau
3 Tanin Kraivixien ธานินทร์ กรัยวิเชียร 15 December 1977 Former Prime Minister (1976–1977)
4 Rear Admiral Mom Luang Usni Pramoj อัศนี ปราโมช 3 March 1984 Former Businessman
5 Air Chief Marshal Kamthon Sindhavananda กำธน สินธวานนท์ 28 November 1987 Former Director of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
6 Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila สิทธิ เศวตศิลา 24 December 1991 Former Minister of Foreign Affairs (1980–1990)
7 General Pichitr Kullavanijaya พิจิตร กุลละวณิชย์ 13 July 1993 Former Deputy Commander of the Supreme Command HQ
8 Ampol Senanarong อำพล เสนาณรงค์ 9 September 1994 Former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives
9 Chamras Kemacharu จำรัส เขมะจารุ 15 November 1994 Former President of the Supreme Court of Justice
10 Mom Rajawongse Thepkamol Devakula เทพกมล เทวกุล 7 August 1997 Former Career Diplomat and Permanent Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Thailand)
11 Palakorn Suwanarat พลากร สุวรรณรัฐ 18 July 2001 Former Deputy Permanent Secretary to Ministry of Interior
12 Kasem Watanachai เกษม วัฒนชัย 18 July 2001 Former Education Minister
13 General Surayud Chulanont สุรยุทธ์ จุลานนท์ 14 November 2003 / 8 April 2008 Former Prime Minister (2007), resigned from the Council, then reappointed
14 Admiral Chumpol Patchusanont ชุมพล ปัจจุสานนท์ 15 March 2005 Former Commander of the Royal Thai Navy
15 Atthaniti Disatha-Amnarj อรรถนิติ ดิษฐอำนาจ 16 August 2007 Former President of the Supreme Court of Justice
16 Supachai Phungam ศุภชัย ภู่งาม 8 April 2008 Former President of the Supreme Court of Justice
17 Chanchai Likitjitta ชาญชัย ลิขิตจิตถะ 8 April 2008 Former President of the Supreme Court of Justice and Minister of Justice
18 Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pookpasuk ชลิต พุกผาสุข 18 May 2011 Former commander of Royal Thai Air Force

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

In recent years, the Privy Council president has played an unclear, backstage role in Thai politics. It was accused by rivals of being behind the bloodless military coup that toppled the corruption mired government of Thaksin Shinawatra.