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Politics

Let Thais choose their own constitution

The committee drafting Thailand's 20th constitution has high hopes of success. Its president claims heavenly bodies are positioned most auspiciously for its important work and its members have made sacred oaths to work for "the maximum benefit of the country and the people." But the Constitutional Drafting Committee will need more than just luck. Its membership, broadly representing the Bangkok establishment, is cut from a narrow swath of Thailand's population. Many of its members actively participated in protests organized by the People's Democratic Reform Committee, a pro-establishment organization identified with yellow-shirted protesters, which earlier this year sought to bring down an elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

     The yellow shirts' rallying call was clean government, good governance, and no elections before "reforms" to the political system. They got their wish in a military coup on May 22. The ruling junta, which calls itself the National Council for Peace and Order, has started constructing a new Thailand, based more or less on the yellow shirt blueprint. It set up a National Reform Council, which will send recommendations to the drafting committee in December. Several months after the committee finishes a final draft, due by September next year, elections will be held. If nothing else, the new constitution will find ways to reduce the role of elected politicians, placing the key functions of government in the hands of unelected people.

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