Serving the country and the King: The Constitutional Court Justice Chiranit Havanond

December is an auspicious month for Thai people. On the 5th of December, the Kingdom celebrates the legacy of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday. On the 10th of December, the country celebrates the birth of the constitution in Thailand. Few people are able to be involved on both occasions and serve the kingdom and the country. One of them is Dr. Chiranit Havanond, the Constitutional Court Justice and a Recipient of the Royal Scholarship, the Anandamahidol. Dr. Chiranit sat down with Dr. Rattana Lao, Senior Program Officer of the Asia Foundation to commemorate both occasions and reflect on his lifework for the Country and the King.

Dr. Rattana Lao: What was your educational trajectory? How were you prepared for the tough job?

Dr. Chiranit Havanond: I went to Chulalongkorn Demonstation School before pursuing a Bachelor of Law from Thammasat University. After graduation, I received the Anandamahidol Scholarship to pursue a Master of Law from Harvard University and a Doctorate of Law from George Washington University.

Receiving the Anandamahidol Scholarship is my greatest achievement. It is the most prestigious scholarship in the country because it is given by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol the great. I have served as a secretary of the Thammasat Division since 1996.

Dr Lao: You are one of Thailand’s most respectable and reputable judge, tell us more about your interesting career trajectory.

Dr. Havanond: I began my legal career as a judge of the Khon Kaen Provincial Court. Then I became Chief Justice of the Central Juvenile and Family Court. I later served as the Justice of the Supreme Court and now I am the Justice of the Constitutional Court.

Dr. Lao: As you travel through life, what is your inspiration?

Dr. Havanond: I am most inspired by His Majesty the late King of Thailand. He was an optimistic and visionary leader. He understood and effectively used the power of knowledge. He adapted various forms of knowledge for the betterment of the people. One of His Majesty’s greatest achievements was the Distance Learning Television under the Royal Patronage where more than one million five hundred thousand rural school students benefited from. The Program uses communication technology to transfer knowledge for young people in the deprived area. It becomes an important source of knowledge for so many people.

Dr. Lao: How do you adapt in the rapidly changing world?

Dr. Havanond: We are experiencing a Technological Revolution. Many things change so quickly. We are fortunate to have learnt from Self-Sufficiency Economy Philosophy from the late King. We need to be frugal and not overspend.

We also need to know the power of education. It is important to be well rounded and most importantly it is quintessential to live harmoniously with the world around us.

Dr. Lao: How do you see your life unfolded? What would be your legacy?

Dr. Havanond: For the rest of my life, I dedicate my humble self to the Country, the Constitution and the King. I want to use my legal knowledge for the betterment of the people. Being a Constitutional Court Justice is important. I want to make sure that my reading of the law serves to stabilize and strengthen Thailand.

Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and writes on education and development. She is based in Bangkok, Thailand.