Enjoy the holiday? Yes. Read the constitution? No

Enjoy the holiday? Yes. Read the constitution? No

A bird stands on a replica constitution at the top of Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A bird stands on a replica constitution at the top of Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The majority of Thais are aware that Dec 10 is Constitution Day, but most have never read the constitution, according to an opinion poll.

The findings were reported by Super Poll, which interviewed 1,145 people from all walks of life between Dec 6 and 10. It found that 91.9% of the respondents know that Dec 10 is Constitution Day. It is celebrated as a national holiday despite the fact that Thailand has had 21 constitutions since 1932.

However, 81.5% of the respondents said they had never read the new constitution, said Noppadol Kannikar, the former Abac University pollster who now heads Super Poll.

The latest constitution, drafted by a committee appointed by the military junta, was passed in a national referendum on Aug 7 this year. It contains 279 sections and the unofficial English translation runs to 136 pages, making it one of the longest constitutions in the world.

The charter drafters are now finalising a series of organic laws that will give force to the main provisions of the constitution, which would then pave the way for an election to be held late next year or early in 2018.

Asked what they knew about the organic laws, 35.8% of the respondents said they knew only that there were conflicts between politicians and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and between politicians and the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC). Some 32.7% believed the organic laws would have a long-term beneficial effect on national security.

Mr Noppadol said that although most people knew that Dec 10 every year marked Constitution Day, their perception of this important day did not motivate them to study the charter.

He said he believed many people might not realise that the constitution was important to their lives. As well, he said, the government might not be doing a sufficiently effective job of persuading people that they should strictly heed the supreme law of the land. 

He said conflicts involving politicians, the NLA and the CDC had reduced people’s motivation to study the constitution. People need to be shown that the constitution and key organic laws would help reduce political rifts rather than create new conflicts, said the pollster.

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