Thailand’s political system changed from monarchy to parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state in 1932. The King’s executive power was exercised through cabinet, his juristic power through the courts, and his legislative power through the parliament.
Parliament is the country’s legislative body. It is composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as described in the Constitution. Currently, the House of Representatives and the Senate each has a secretariat office that provides administrative and academic support, and promotes democratic development. There remains much scope for improvement in democratic development because these two secretariats are unable to provide enough support to foster understanding of politics and democracy among members and staff of political parties, civil servants, people in private organizations, and students, all of whom are important in the democratic development process.
For this reason, some members of parliament began to study the democratic development process and found that efforts to promote knowledge of democracy did not reach the target groups because such work was done through a sub-project under the House of Representative Secretariat. This group of parliamentarians agreed that an organization should be established specifically to promote democracy, and to take over certain other responsibilities requiring considerable personnel and budget, such as administration, meeting arrangement and typing, from the secretariat. Moreover, there was an intention to separate academic work from democratic development.
Thus, on 7 December 1993, National Assembly President Professor Marut Bunnak issued order 12/2536 to form a committee to study the possibility of establishing an organization to mark the 100th anniversary, on 8 November 1993, of the birth of His Majesty King Phrabat Somdej Phra Poramintharamaha Prajadhipok Phra Pokklao Chaoyuhua, Thailand’s first constitutional monarch. House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Mr. Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, chaired the committee considering whether the new organization could be created and begin operation in 1994. On 13 January 1994, the committee established a subcommittee to prepare a draft budget and select a name for the organization. The subcommittee visited Germany to observe democracy promotion agencies and, on 15 July 1994, presented a report to National Assembly President Marut recommending the establishment of King Prajadhipok’s Institute. The next day the committee announced parliamentary order 5/2537, forming a committee to establish the new institution in the parliament. Approval was received from King Bhumibhol to name the new institution after King Prajadhipok, Rama VII of the Rattanakosin period. On 19 January 1995, National Assembly President Marut, with the agreement of the parliamentary civil servants committee, announced the establishment of King Prajadhipok’s Institute as a section under the House of Representatives Secretariat. The institute was responsible for organizing training, seminars and academic meetings concerning governance in democracies, doing work concerning legislation, making documents, teaching materials and training technology, preparing the institute to be upgraded to a department-level organization, as well as other tasks it is assigned. The institute’s operation was based on the Institute Regulation on Administration and Education 1995 and two committees—the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Committee and the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Academic Committee—oversaw the organization’s operation.
Announcement 1/2538, issued on 23 March 1995, formed a subcommittee chaired by Mr. Chumpol Silpa-archa to consider elevating the institute’s status from section to department under the House of Representatives Secretariat.
On 4 February 1997, at the first meeting of the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Committee and the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Academic Committee, there was a resolution, 1/2540, to establish a subcommittee to conduct a study on improving the institute’s structure and personnel, as well as its duties and the direction of future activities. The subcommittee was to propose a new organization structure and manpower requirements that would accord to the institute’s duties as described in the 1995 parliamentary regulation about education and the administration of the institute.
The sub-committee proposed, and the two committees’ chairmen agreed, that the institute should be changed in both status and structure to become a juristic person under the supervision of parliament. It was therefore agreed: to organize a seminar to discuss and consider a change in the institute’s structure and status;to propose a revised structure and status to the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Committee;
to draft the King Prajadhipok’s Institute bill; to propose the bill to the President of the National Assembly.
These actions were to take place between February and July 1997. To draft the institution’s enabling legislation, National Assembly President Wan Muhamad Nor Matha issued parliamentary announcement 40/2540, dated 6 June 1997, appointing a drafting committee chaired by National Assembly Vice President Sophon Petsawang The committee drafted the bill according to principles agreed upon by the institute.
The draft KPI bill was discussed in the House of Representatives for the first time on Wednesday 17 December 1997, in the House’s meeting set 20, year 2, session 5 (general ordinary session). In fact, four drafts were proposed, and the meeting resolved to accept all four in principle. Later the draft by Democrat Party representative Dr. Vinai Tunsiri was chosen as the main draft for consideration. This draft was accepted in the third item on the agenda for House of Representatives meeting set 20, year 27 (general ordinary session) on Wednesday 11 March 1998.
Later, the bill was sent for consideration in the Senate, with first reading on 10 March 1998 (in general ordinary session no.13/2541). The Senate agreed to accept the bill in principle and later the bill passed the second and third readings on 26 June 1998 (legislative ordinary session) with a few changes to the draft. The revised draft was returned to the House of Representatives for consideration.
In the House of Representative meeting set 20, no. 6/2541 on Wednesday 15 July 1998, the House agreed to the Senate’s version of the bill which was passed as the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Act, published in the Government Gazette, number 155, section 57, dated 4 September 1998, effective 5 September 1998. National Assembly President Wan Muhamad Nor Matha was the chairman of the King Prajadhipok’s Institute Executive Committee and Professor Borwornsak Uwanno was the first secretary general.
(January 2, 1999 - January 4, 2003) Assoc. Prof Noranit Setabutr was appointed as the Second Secretary General of King Prajadhipok’s Institute (February 5, 2003 - November 15, 2006) and on 22 December 2549 Prof. Dr. Borwansak Uwanno was appointed as Secretary General. At present, Assoc.Prof.Woothisarn Tanchai, was appointed as Secretary General.
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