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(August 9, 2019) Prime Minister Prayut's huge little gaffe

While Thailand's flawed 2017 constitution was bound to run into a fundamental dispute at some point, the sudden and brewing charter crisis facing the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stems from an unlikely source. During the oath-taking ceremony presided over by Their Majesties on July 16, the Gen Prayut-led cabinet somehow omitted one-third of a statement which was mandated to be read aloud before officially taking office. What should have been a routine constitutional ritual has become a procedural gaffe that has captured national attention, putting government stability at risk and the prime minister's political longevity in doubt.

According to Section 161 of the charter, cabinet members are to be sworn in by pledging loyalty to the monarch, and honesty in carrying out their duties for the benefit of the country and people, including the preservation of and adherence to the constitution in all of its respects. Of these three elements, which together comprise Thailand's political system as a constitutional monarchy, the last part about the constitution was left out. Instead, the word "always" was inserted in its place.