WORD ON THAILAND: Thailand’s political landscape is being restructured in what appears to be a dramatic move towards real, grass-roots people power through decentralization.
The original copy of the 2007 constitution, written on a traditional folding book. On the pages shown, King Bhumibol Adulyadej signed and applied his regnal seal (the seal of the garuda) and the three great seals (from left to right: the seal of the great mandate, the seal of the celestial elephant, and the seal of the phoenix castle). The copy is displayed at the National Assembly of Thailand along with the copies of the other constitutions.
While the US and European nations drag their citizens into an increasingly centralized collectives — giving more power to a few over the many — and criticize countries like Thailand when they deviate from the capitalist-driven model of ‘democracy’, Thailand is preparing to emerge from military rule as a genuine democracy run by the people for the people.
The new Constitution of Thailand is being drafted with an emphasis on the “need and importance of decentralizing administrative power to regional areas of the country”.
The Constitution Drafting Committee has published a booklet, “Constitution for Thailand Reform”, which outlines the basis of the new constitution, stating that the decentralization of administrative power provides real power to local people and enables them to receive public services in response to their needs.
The decentralization is being done under the The Public Administration Act 2007, which specifies that the process of decentralization must have clear directions and be carried out on a continual basis, together with bureaucratic reform.
The aim is to eventually allow Thailand’s 76 provinces to be governed by independently, some possibly merging; managing their own budgets, human resources and law enforcement.
The new Constitution is scheduled to be submitted for royal endorsement in early September 2015, reported the Public Relations Department of Thailand.
The move means local people will be allowed to participate in diverse forms of local administration. Local administrative organizations will provide public services for residents, while the central government provides them with only necessary services, said the report.
Local authorities will be empowered to manage their own organizations, especially financial management, income collection, and personnel administration. However, civilians will be able to evaluate the performance of local administrative organizations based on the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability and efficiency.
The decentralization also aims to allow local governments to manage their natural resources, develop the local economy and promote local culture.
Basically, citizens will be highly involved in decisions that affect their lives.