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The Thai State Attorney Museum
time:2019-04-11 Source:OAG of Thailand  

Thai State Attorney

“State Attorney”, the term long recognized in Thai society and language, is the government legal officer entrusted to assume the post of State Counsel or Public Lawyer who represents the state in criminal proceeding to regulate criminality and give effect to its sanction. Not only prosecutes the offender in the court, the state attorney also defends the government official charged in criminal case due to the practice of his function as well as helps protect public interests by representing government agencies in civil lawsuits, renders legal advice, and reviews draft contracts between private entities and government agencies or state enterprises.

The state attorney also plays active role in the suppression of transnational crime. According to the Act on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1992, the Attorney General is the Central Authority for rendering assistance to foreign state upon requested as well as seeking assistance from foreign state on behalf of the Thai authorities. As for public service, the state Attorney helps protect civil rights, gives advice, and provides legal aid for the poor.

The formation of Thai state attorney institution is a long history. Tracing back to the past, it is found that the state attorney was originated in Thailand many centuries ago. Evolution of its institution can be divided into 3 phases: the pre-establishment of the Public Prosecution Department, the Public Prosecution Department, and the present Office of the Attorney General.

The Pre-Establishment of the Public Prosecution Department
This phase took place during the Ayutthaya era (Around 1300 A.D.) and continued until the beginning of Bangkok era. In those days, the King appointed an officer to guard the laws as well as to handle the cased and render legal advice to His Majesty. The officer was then known as “the guardian of the laws” in Thai language. In the provinces, officers with similar function called“Yok-kra-bat”were also appointed to handle criminal cases on behalf of the King and to participate in trial of cases in conjunction with the Provincial Governor. If the “Yok-kra-bat”disagreed with the merit of judgment, he was empowered to return the case to the judge for review. This is similar to the process of appeal under the current system.

The system of “Yok-kra-bat” was continued until the early days of Bangkok era.

The Public Prosecution Department
This phase began in connection with the renaissance of Thai legal and administrative systems during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V). The justice administration of Thailand was totally reorganized to cope with the standard of Western World. And this brought the first massive structural change to the Thai State Attorney. The early ststem of“Yok-kra-bat” inherited from Ayutthaya was replaced by the establishment of Public Prosecution Department on 1 April 1893, as an agency of the Ministry of Justice and under direct supervision of “Khun Luang Phraya Kraisri” the first Attorney General.

Twenty-nine years later, on 1 September 1922, the Public Prosecution Department was transferred to the Ministry of Interior and remained there until the beginning of modern state attorney period.

The Establishment of Office of the Attorney General
On 28 February 1991, the state attorney institution experienced once again the historical change when the Public Prosecution Department has been separated from the Ministry of Interior and stood on its own independence as the Office of the Attorney General. The newly established Office of the Attorney General is a liberalized public organization which administratively responsible only to the Prime Minister. The substantial purpose of this change is to guarantee justice and prevent political influence from interfering with the performing prosecutorial function of the state attorney.

The Thai Attorney Museum

It was nearly a century from the first reformation is 1893 when the necessity of having a state attorney museum was raised by Mr. Suchart Traiprasit, the Chairman of the Centennial Celebration of the State Attorney Committee, the “The valuable heritage of state attorney obtained during the past century such as historical case files, ancient manuscripts, legal text books of old laws, as well as other articles namely: desks, cabinets, typewriters, old style clocks,etc., are now ignored and neglected as discharged garbage. It is very unfortunate indeed, since those things are actually invaluable historic treasures that can reflect the long history of the evolution of state attorney as well as legal system of Thailand. They deserve correct and proper preservation for the benefit of he future generation to study”.

The plan to set up the museum was there fore launched out with the aim to finish it in time for the centennial celebration of Thai State Attorney on 1 April 1993. This plan was overwhelmingly welcomed, thus expense for construction was not from the government budget but the donation of state attorneys. The 11th floor of the Office of the Attorney General, Ratchadapisek Building was selected to be the location of the museum and intensively decorated with marble and Thai exquisite wood carving.

It is no doubt that the construction of this museum required a very large amount of expense, how ever. With the extreme kindness of His Holiness “Somdet Phra Yannasamvara”, the Supreme Patriarch, all difficulties were resolved. Not only did the Supreme Patriarch kindly granted permission to use his name and bestowed some sacred ingredients to produce 2, 536 pieces of amulet golden Buddha image which would be given as
souvenirs to those who donate the money for the construction, His Royal Highness also presided over the sacred ceremony from the beginning to end.

Because of his Holiness participation, the donation was overwhelmingly collected and enough to cope with all expenses
The Office of the Attorney General, therefore, very much appreciates His Holiness, the Supreme Patriarch.

Collections exhibited in the museum were selected from 177 Provincial State Attorney Offices in 73 provinces around the country by an ad hoc Committee. Many invaluable items have been found and saved from ruin, for instance: the precious old legal books, manuscripts concerning "Yok-kra-bat", Annual Report of State Attorney for the year 1935, etc.

According to the report submitted by the ad hoc Committee, 25,000 volumes of old legal texts, 5,000 pieces of old document, several rare manuscripts, as well as 200,000 pages of historical case files, very high value for study, were found and placed under preservation in accompany with 91 old-style teak cabinets and other articles In the Museum, the visitors will find an array of century-old European style teak tables, desks, and cabinets displayed in a manner conforming to their functions as if they were still in use. In one corner, a model office and working room of the former state attorney is arranged in order to induce imagination and insights of the visitor back to the atmosphere of works and functions of the state attorney in those old days.

Within the cabinets displayed around the area, thousands of old legal books are systematically collected pursuant to their categories. One cabinet contains books, texts, and articles written by Prince Ratchaburi Direkrit, the Father of Thai Legal System", the others are used to keep works and masterpieces of each famous lawyers in the past such as the Cabinet of "the Law of Siam" by Dr. Bradley; an American missionary residing in Thailand around1842, the Cabinet of “a Collection of Thai Laws” by Khun Luang Phraya Kraisri”; the first Attorney General, the Cabinet of "government gazette Volume 1-25"; which is the first publication of Thai Government. etc.. All these books are rare and cannot be found anywhere else.

Apart from those rare books, many ancient manuscripts, old documents, pictures, historically important case files, and other precious items are also on display.

On the opposite side, a beautiful and exquisitely decorated room is set up to store many ancient images of Buddha inherited from various historic eras of Thailand since Dvaravati, Chiang Saen, Sukhothai Ayutthaya, and early Bangkok. These historical and artful items were collected from various Provincial State Attorney Offices as well as donated by many retired and present state attorneys, with the view to preserve for the future generation to pay respect for and study.

The most remarkable and crucial thing in the Museum is the half-size statue of King Rama I. This statue was created to commemorate the Centennial Celebration of Thai State Attorney in 1993. The statute is for paying homage by the state attorneys since His Majesty the King was once"Yok-kra-bat"(former state attorney) of Ratchaburi province before coronation.

Thai State Attorney Museum is open to public Students as well as interested persons are allowed and welcomed to visit and use facilities for research every official day, free of charge.

Group visitors is recommended to make advance contact. Please call 541-2951.  

Contact us
Mr. Deng Guangming, Assistant Prosecutor, Division Chief of International Cooperation, General Office
The People's Procuratorate of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Tel: +86-771-5506175 E-mail:dmg2939@163.com
Address:3 Fengxiang Road, Nanning, Guangxi P.R. China