Open Letter to the Government and the People of Australia

กลุ่มศึกษาข้อตกลงเขตการค้าเสรีภาคประชาชน (FTA WATCH)

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Open Letter to the Government and the People of Australia

Regarding the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Thailand

Conflicting the Provisions of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2540(1997)

Special ref. 09/2004

12 December 2004

This letter is intended to provide concise information regarding the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of Australia. It is most important to recognize that the said FTA was negotiated, agreed, and signed without any participation of the people of the Kingdom of Thailand. Many sectors of society object to the FTA since they are afraid of the impacts on their lives, especially in the agricultural sector

The undisclosed fact about the negotiations that led to the conclusion of the said FTA was that the agreement was done only in the English language, and that language is to be treated as authentic. This revelation is an observable piece of evidence that the provisions of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand have been violated. Article 74 of the Constitution requires that all international relations between Thailand and other countries shall be carried out on reciprocity.

Moreover, it has always been the accepted customary practice of civilized states that negotiations and agreements done between sovereign states must be embedded with equality and fairness. Nonetheless, the Thai-Australian FTA (TAFTA) did not display the said refined international norm: that FTA was done with no reference at all to the Thai language, which is the only language practically understood by Thai people, and more importantly, the official language of the Kingdom of Thailand.

There is ‘unofficial translation of TAFTA’ shown on the website of the Department of Trade Negotiations, Ministry of Commerce after the Royal Thai Cabinet approved that agreement which was later signed by Mr.Wattana Muangsook, Ministry of Commerce. But the status of this unofficial translated
version is still not considered enforceable as equivalent as the authentic version of the Thai-Australian FTA. When this action is viewed in a straight forward manner, it demonstrates that there may have been a conspiracy of the Thai and Australian governments to violate the Thai Constitution. In particular, the self-thought-to-be good deed of the two governments is in conflict with Article 60 that provides a stipulation that the Thai people be given a standing to participate in any governmental dealings. And Article 76 calls for the duty of the government to carry out promotion and assistance to participation of the people in the deliberation of any policy matter, political decision making, and in social,economic and political planning.

With the signing of the FTA between the Thai and Australian governments, the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand was totally torn. Furthermore, conceivably, the concepts, intentions, and doctrines of the Thai Constitution to provide public participation and consultation together with the rights, dignities, and freedoms of the Thai people have all been defeated by the FTA signed between the governments of Thailand and Australia. This FTA shall have no legal validity and be void ab initio due to the objectives that were unconstitutional and against public order and good governance. Besides, the said FTA is a clear demonstration that the government of the Kingdom of Thailand intentionally acted in violation of the Constitution. Many Thai autonomous bodies, such as the Senate are on the move of impeaching and dismissing those who abused the Constitution from their offices.

FTA Watch and the Thai people hereby call on the Government and people of Australia to act towards Thailand and the Thai people on the basis of equality and to halt implementation of the Agreement in order to avoid negative repercussions on the peoples of both countries which may be irreversible.

(Asst. Prof. Sumlee Jaidee)
On behalf of FTA Watch, Thailand

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source: FTA Watch