December 10th is a public holiday in Thailand to commemorate Constitution Day. The significance of the date goes back to 1932 and a time of great upheaval in Siam (the former name for Thailand) which resulted in the end of the absolute monarchy. In the early 1930s, the Siamese economy was suffering from the effects of the Great Depression and the monarch, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII), was seen by some as too young and inexperienced to deal with the various problems facing the country.
In June 1932, a bloodless coup was led by a group of intellectuals and military men known as the People’s Party. An ultimatum and a provisional constitution were presented to the King. Despite an initial refusal, the King did sign the charter and in doing so ended the absolute monarchy in Siam. Internal disputes amongst the People’s Party and opposition from the Palace resulted in a new and revised permanent constitution being agreed which was duly signed by King Rama VII on December 10, 1932.
The monarchy would no longer have any say in government and instead would be a constitutional monarchy. However, the sacred and inviolable nature of the monarchy was established. In April this year Cha-Am Today reported on the progress of the new Petchaburi Administrative Court under construction. Construction of the 293 million THB Petchaburi Administrative Court commenced in May last year and is due for completion this month. However the formal opening of the building will not be until 19th January 2015.
The Constitutional Court of Thailand was promulgation through the 1997 Thailand Constitution, an enabling Act was passed in 1999 and the Administrative Court started operations in March 2001. Since then it has progressively strengthened its operations, making it easier for citizens to lodge their complaints. The Administrative Court’s main jurisdiction is to settle litigation between private citizens and the State; including government ministries, departments and independent agencies. Accordingly the completion of the Petchaburi Administrative Court has direct relevance to Constitution Day. To say the least the new building is impressive. Dubbed by locals as the ‘White House’, it’s easy to see why.
The US version of the White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States, located in Washington, D.C. The USA White House The Petchaburi ‘White House’ bears a striking resemblance to the original and is a real ‘head turner’ for commuters between Hua Hin and Cha-Am. It’s located about 15 kilometres from Hua Hin on Petchakasim Road (Western side). We’ve made contact with the Director elect of the new Court and hope to have access to the facility and report further next month.