The Emergence of Ombudsman in Thailand
The Thai Ombudsman Institution
In the past in Thailand, the King governed the country through absolute monarchy. During the Sukhothai era (from 1181 to 1474), under King Ramkhamheang (1279-1298), people could petition the King by ringing a bell near the town hall to announce that they were in troubles with the officials, and required adjudication. When the King heard the ringing bell, he came out and discussed the problems with the complainants. Later as the relationship between the ruler and people became increasingly complicated, and the manner of government became more sophisticated, there was an attempt to transfer the ruling power from the administrative branch to people by deploying special legislative institute to investigate complaints of people’s grievances and complaints.
The term Ombudsman was first mentioned in the parliamentary system in 1975 by the Constitutional Drafting Assembly. The legal mandate of the Ombudsman was described in the draft Constitution. However, the Legislative Branch decided to delete this section from the Constitution. After many social movements and public concerns, political development and reform established a concept of ‘check and balance’ in administrative and political systems. Still, the attempt was fulfilled in 1997 when the ‘most democratic constitution considered’ was enacted. Sections 196,197, 198 and 329 of the Constitution stated the mandate of the Ombudsman and mentioned that ‘within two years from the date of the promulgation of the Constitution, five organic laws, including the Ombudsman Organic Law, shall be enacted.’
The first Organic Law on Ombudsman was published in the Royal Gazette on the 14th day of September 1999.
On the first of April 2000 His Majesty the King granted the Royal appointment of the Ombudsman to Mr. Pichet Soontornpipit. The whole process of development and establishment of the Ombudsman has been fulfilled after 25 years of political evolution.
Thailand’s political ‘hick up’ took place, once again, in September 2006 when the army strikes the government through a bloodless coup d? e tat. As a consequence, a new constitution was drafted, proceeded through the referendum, and announced in August 2007. Apart from considering and investigating circumstances and providing justice to people who have been treated unfairly by all types of civil servants or State employees, the Constitution of 2007 has marked major additional roles of the Ombudsman to oversee the ethical practice of politicians, government officials or state officials as well as to establish Code of Ethics to be followed by all agencies. The second role is to follow up and provide recommendations in compliance with the Constitution as well as matter for consideration in support of Constitutional amendment.