By Nulacha Sutthinonthagul
On the 7th of August each year, Thailand observes Repee Day, commemorating the passing away of His Royal Highness Prince Rapee Pattanasak (The Father of Thailand's Modern Legal System).
H.R.H. Prince Rapee was the son of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). He was born on October 21, 1874. After he has obtained his secondary education in SuanKularb Palace School in Bangkok, he went on to study law at Christchurch College, Oxford University. The Prince came back and became the minister of justice at the age of 22 in 1896. He held the position for 14 years.
The Prince was the youngest law graduate in Thailand as he finished his Bachelor's Degree in Law with honors within three years at the age of 17. Normally, it takes four years to complete a bachelor of law degree.
After Prince Rapee has graduated from England, he worked for the Secretarial Department of Siam. The Prince was called "Smart Rapee" by his ability to draft correspondence pleased King Chulalongkorn so much. Then, the Prince has got subsequently appointed to the Privy Council. He also chaired a special committee to establish the new provincial courts in Thailand also. Despite a large number of legal cases, the Prince always dealt with them as quickly, fairly, and efficiently.
At the age of 22 Years old, Prince Rapee was promoted to become the Minister of Justice and worked hard to lay a firm foundation for Thai legal systems with international standards. At that time, Prince Rapee was the youngest chief executive of Thailand and he has realized that Thai courts were being taken advantage of by foreign courts which claimed that Thai law was outdated. To address the problems the Prince has hired foreigners to work with Thai judges. This encouraged Thai judges to understand local and international law. After that, Thai law courts have become so well recognized that foreign embassy in Thailand allowed people of their countries who stayed in Thailand to use Thai legal procedures.
Another important task was undertaken by Prince Rapee was updating, correcting, and modifying all Thai laws so that Thai people understood them and they are were able to access legal specialists. The committee then successfully has come up with the first legal code of Thailand.
Upon this promulgation, the Prince produced written explanations of all legal codes to facilitate law education and interpretation. This is the most important role of the Faculty of Law in Thailand. The committee drafted many laws and ut has become the new Council of State. The Prince established the first law school in the country in 1897, teaching the students himself.
In 1911, King Vajiravudh, Rama VI has appointed Prince Rapee to be a MInister of Agriculture. He promoted the systemization of land title deeds and ownership and initiated the Royal Irrigation Department and many projects to aid all farmers.
Prince Rapee was getting ill in 1920, from this the Prince has resigned from active service. Then, the prince went to Paris for medical care. In the same year, the Prince has passed away on August 7.
The statue of Prince Rapee was constructed in front of the Ministry of Justice. In each year law practitioners and the general public citizens who now live under the law which the Prince was the Iconic of the Father of Law in Thailand, were got to pay tribute to him.
Sources: Justicinlaw, Inter Law