NEW THAI CONSTITUTION INCREASES POLITICAL ACTIVITY

Created: 6/28/1968

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

new thai constitution increases political activity

new Thai constitution will almost certainly ushereriod of heightened political activity, but it Is not likely to result soon in major changes in the government.

Nine years in the writing, the constitution promulgated by King Phumiphon onune is an expression of the militarydesire to accommodate pressure for politicalhile maintaining itself in power. The constitution provides for an independent executivo, chosen by the King with what willprove to be the closeof the present leaders,icameral legislature having carefully circumscribed powers. The upper house, which wille facto veto over legislation, will be chosen by the King.

The constitution provides for lower house elections within eight months. and the government has recently announced theof an as yet unnamedparty with Prime Minister Thanom at ita head. Although progress in organizing theparty has been slow, the fragmented nature of theand the considerable power at the disposal of the governmont should permit it to control the lower house with little

Leftist politicians almost immediately attempted to use the new constitution to challenge

existing laws curtailing civil liberties. Apparently acting in concert with student leaders, the politicians managed toarge and well-organized student demonstration onune to back up their demands for legal reforms. The demonstration, the first in Bangkok since7 coup, Thai authorities, who have long taken student docility for granted, but they managed toit adroitly.

Tho demonstration willcertainly be viewed by some ruling elementsonfirmation of their worst fears, and it will Increase the resolve of theestablishment to monitor carefully the liberalizing process Deputy Prime Minister Praphat,oe of political change, has stated that martial law will remain in effect despite Prime Minister Thanom, who characteristically blamed the student outbreak onas indicated that the government will take steps to ensure there Is no recurrence.

Even if the governmentin keepingunder wraps, theof openumber ofembarrassing to Bangkok'sthe US and the largeUS military personnel Inare almost certain topolitical issues

SUMMARY

Jun 68

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