Thai king's office seeks changes to draft charter

File photo of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The new Thai king's office has asked for changes to a draft Constitution regarding his royal powers and the government has agreed to make them.
File photo of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The new Thai king's office has asked for changes to a draft Constitution regarding his royal powers and the government has agreed to make them.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • The new Thai king's office has asked for changes to a draft Constitution regarding his royal powers and the government has agreed to make them, the prime minister said yesterday.

Thailand's military-backed Constitution is central to the junta's plan to hold a general election to return the country to democratic rule. It was approved in a referendum last year and has been awaiting the endorsement of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne last month.

Thailand has a constitutional monarchy and public interventions in political affairs by a king are rare. "The request said there are three to four issues that need fixing to ensure his royal powers," Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters after a weekly Cabinet meeting. "This issue has nothing to do with the rights and freedom of the people," he said, without revealing which clauses would be addressed.

According to a government document seen by Reuters, the proposed changes would include removing the need for the king to appoint a regent when he travels overseas.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn has spent much of his adult life abroad. He returned to Thailand from Germany to take the throne following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on Oct 13. The late king was widely revered and seen as a force for stability during seven decades of rule.

The process of changing the Constitution will take up to three months because the government would first need to make changes to the current interim Constitution, Mr Prayut said. But he said there was no change to the planned timeline for the election. It is due to be held by the end of this year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Thai king's office seeks changes to draft charter'. Print Edition | Subscribe