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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 14 – Constitution Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 14, Constitution Day. In Thai, it’s called วันรัฐธรรมนูญ (wan rát-thà-tham-má-nuun).
In this lesson, we’re going to talk about Constitution Day, which is held on December 10 each year. This is the day that commemorates the promulgation of the first permanent constitution of Thailand in 1932. The constitution was signed by King Rama VII, who acknowledged the shift from absolute monarchy to a democratic form of government with the King as a Head of State under the constitution.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
To date, how many constitutions of Thailand have there been?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Thailand's constitution originated from a political transition in 1932. The transition was a result of the First World War, which caused worldwide economic depression and also affected Thailand. As a result, the government had to depose some government officials and legislate new laws to collect taxes or ภาษี (phaa-sǐi), including property taxes and land taxes, from the citizens. As this caused discontent among military officers and the general public, King Rama VII decided to promulgate a constitution to be used as a basis for the laws in Thailand.
Consequently, on Constitution Day each year, people will make merit for King Rama VII. In addition, representatives from government agencies and private companies, school students, university students, and the general public will gather in front of the statue of King Rama VII and place a wreath to pay homage, or ความเคารพ (khwaam khao-róp), to the King who changed the political system in the country and brought democracy to Thailand, giving more rights to the citizens to take part in politics. Before Constitution Day, educational institutions often hold an exhibition about the origin of the day as well as the content of the current Constitution.
As Constitution Day is a public holiday, the government holds a “Thai kids love the parliament” activity in which youth representatives have a chance to interview and exchange knowledge about the constitution directly with law experts. This allows Thai youth and the general public to gain a better understanding of the Thai constitution.
Now, let’s talk about some interesting Thai laws, or กฎหมาย (gòt-măai), in accordance with the current Constitution. For example, Thai citizens who are 18 years or older are responsible for exercising their right to vote for their representatives in the political system. Not voting without proper reasons may deprive the person of some rights, depending on the law on each case. If the person has not exercised their right to vote many times over, he or she may lose their right to apply as a candidate for the House of Representatives election or the senatorial election. In other words, the person may lose the right to become Thailand’s Prime Minister, as a Prime Minister, or นายกรัฐมนตรี (naa-yók rát-thà-mon-dtrii), has to previously be a member of the House of Representatives.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
To date, how many constitutions of Thailand have there been?
The answer is eighteen. The current constitution is the 2007 Constitution of Thailand. This is the first constitution that, after the draft was completed and approved by the National Legislative Assembly, was shown to the general public and a referendum was held whether they would approve it or not. As a majority of people agreed with the constitution, it was declared to be in effect and has been in use until now.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Does your country have a constitution that enshrines its supreme laws?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!

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Does your country have a constitution that enshrines its supreme laws?