—Andrew Harding, National University of Singapore
On 8 and 9 December 2017 Thammasat University Law Faculty in Bangkok, Thailand, hosted the 7th Asian Constitutional Law Forum. The ACLF has been held biennially since 2005 in various Asian cities. On this occasion it was attended by 85 scholars, and offered in panels of three or four papers in three parallel streams. The event was enhanced by the attendance of 30 scholars who are preparing chapters for the upcoming Oxford Handbook of Constitutional Law in Asia. The Forum facilitated extensive discussion of these chapters in panels designed to facilitate this notable publication. David Law of Hong Kong University Law Faculty leads the editorial team, and there are altogether 56 chapters planned. The Handbook will be published by OUP in 2019. Panels and papers dealt, otherwise, with a range of current issues in Asian constitutional law, and with a broad range of countries covering most of Asia between Japan and India. It was noted how many younger scholars were present, indicating that the Forum has become an important venue for them. At the same time we were privileged to hear some of the most noted scholars in this field such as Albert Chen (HKU), Tom Ginsburg (Chicago), Chang Wen-chen (NTU Taipei), Hahm Chaihark (Yonsei), Thio Li-ann (National University of Singapore) and Clark Lombardi (University of Washington).
Thammasat University was considerably appreciated for its generous and efficient hosting of the event, and special thanks was given to TU’s Dr Munin Pongsapan. A report of some of the content of the papers can be found at here.
The occasion also marked the establishment of a new scholarly association, the Association for Asian Constitutional Studies. The AACS has grown out of the ACLF itself, which has been held on an informal basis until now. The National University of Singapore hosted the 2015 Forum, and the decision to set up the AACS was made by the assembled scholars at that meeting. I was asked to establish a preparatory committee, and have now been appointed Chair of the AACS following the formal establishment of the AACS in Bangkok. The purpose of the AACS is mainly to act a vehicle for running the ACLF on a continuing and concerted basis, but it will also organise other activities relevant to constitutional law in Asia, such as young scholars’ workshops (for which there is keen demand in Asia) and thematic seminars. The ACLF has spawned a good deal of published work on Asian constitutional law in the past.
Under the AACS’ Constitution, passed at the meeting in Bangkok, the Committee comprises representatives of the institutions hosting the last four Forums. It is intended that the Secretariat be based at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at NUS. The Committee is working with Vietnam National University with a view to VNU hosting the next meeting in Hanoi in 2019. The membership of the AACS currently comprises participants in previous ACLFs, but any individual can join simply by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of ACLF VIII in 2019 will be forthcoming soon. We do not presently have a webpage but expect to have one up and running in a few months’ time.