Today’s Nation reports:

Noranit Setabutr, former secretary-general of King Prajadhipok’s Institute, was elected chairman of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) Monday.

New Mandala is pleased to announce that Noranit has connections with the Australian National University. For some years there have been links between the Centre for Democratic Institutions at the ANU and King Prajadhipok’s Institute. The CDI website provides a summary of one collaborative activity:

For a number of years King Prajadhipok’s Institute of Thailand has been one of CDI major partners in the region. While KPI has an extensive program in consolidating Thailand’s democracy, it also has the ambition of reaching out to neighbouring countries striving to establish systems of democratic governance. In this regard, KPI, with support from CDI, organised a regional workshop on participatory public policy formulation and invited 18 regional participants to attend. The President of the Senate of Thailand, H. E. Mr. Suchon Chaleekure, gave the opening address, KPI President Noranit Setabutr welcomed participants and CDI Director Roland Rich [ex-ambassador to Laos] delivered the first substantive presentation analysing public service systems in the region.

And in February 2006 Noranit presented an informal seminar on Thailand’s pre-coup political crisis at the ANU. (If you look at this photo of the event you will see half of me at the far left.) I can’t lay my hands on my notes from the seminar right now, but I do recall that it contained the usual critical Bangkok commentary on Thaksin’s populist policies. I think I asked Noranit why he didn’t just refer to them as “popular policies.”

Let’s wait and see if any of this Australian exposure finds even a faint echo in the constitution drafting process. There may be some relevant lessons relating to respect for the electoral process. After all, in Australia we have had to learn to put up with a long-serving Prime Minister who is vehemently rejected by many (including myself) in the chattering classes.

As usual New Mandala would welcome any readers’ insights into the mind of Noranit Setabutr.