Calling all founding fathers (and mothers)

According to a wave of new reporting, Burma’s junta appointed constitutional convention has now reconvened.  The BBC reports that Lieutenant General Thein Sein’s opening speech:

….referred frequently to enemies and subversives who were, he said, trying to bring about the collapse of the nation.  He blamed British colonialism for the disunity and economic chaos that Burma has suffered since independence.  The military-guided constitution was, he said, the key to future peace and prosperity.

In Thailand, a new National Legislative Assembly has been appointed by the junta and is pending royal endorsement.  It will be tasked with drafting a new constitution to replace the current interim charter.  According to Thailand’s official news source:

The assembly members will be appointed from professional groups and various sectors of society…The council has already completed its selection procedure and the prime minister will submit a list of nominees for royal approval within these two days.

The Irrawaddy - which always follows similar constitutional matters in Burma very closely - is carrying a critical online commentary that questions the direction of this soon to be drafted Thai charter. 

Once again, both Burma and Thailand are looking for inspiration to solve their respective political problems.  It is sad, in so many ways, that political and institutional development in both countries is currently at such a low ebb.  Division is everywhere and there is, unfortunately, no prospect of immediate improvement.  Regardless of the initial outcome of these two constitution drafting sessions, many in Burma, and in Thailand, will retain legitimate concerns about the process of law-making.

In the present moment, a big question is: 

Can Thailand and Burma’s undemocratic constitution drafting bodies lead, at the end of the day, to stable and effective democratic institutions?

About Nicholas Farrelly