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[คุยกับอาจารย์กฎหมาย] คุยกับอาจารย์ ดร.ลัสเซอ ชุลท์ อาจารย์ประจำคณะนิติศาสตร์ชาวเยอรมัน

นอกจากหลักสูตรนิติศาสตรบัณฑิต ซึ่งคณะนิติศาสตร์ มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ ได้จัดการเรียนการสอนหลายหลักสูตร ทั้ง 3 แคมปัสแล้ว คณะนิติศาสตร์ยังได้จัดการเรียนการสอนเป็นภาษาอังกฤษในหลักสูตร LLB และ LLM และได้บรรจุอาจารย์ประจำซึ่งเป็นชาวต่างชาติจำนวนหนึ่งเพื่อรับผิดชอบวิชาในหลักสูตรดังกล่าวร่วมกับอาจารย์ประจำชาวไทย อาจารย์ ดร. Lasse Schuldt (ลัสเซอ ชุลท์) ชาวเยอรมัน เป็นอาจารย์ประจำที่คณะนิติศาสตร์มาเป็นเวลากว่า 3 ปี เราจะพาคุณไปพูดคุยกับอาจารย์ลัสเซอ (เป็นภาษาอังกฤษ) ถึงเส้นทางและประสบการณ์การทำงานที่คณะนิติศาสตร์ การใช้ชีวิตในเมืองไทย และเรื่องราวเกี่ยวกับกฎหมายเยอรมัน 

Question (1) : Could you tell us about your educational and professional background before before joining the Faculty of Law? And how did you know about Thammasat University?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : “I studied law at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. I also spent a semester at the University of Paris for an Erasmus Exchange. After I graduated from Humboldt University, I continued with a PhD in Criminal Law focusing on the topic of the criminal liability of the journalists in cases where they deal with secret information. I spent about three years on my PhD and, after that, I continued to finish my legal education in Germany. The German system of legal education requires law students to take the first state examination and, after two years of practical education, the second state examination, . After I completed that final step of legal education, I continued to work as a teaching assistant at Humboldt University. Then, I moved on to work as a lawyer at a commercial law firm for a short time. After that, I became a criminal defence lawyer before I moved to Thailand.”

“I knew Thammasat University when I was about to come to Thailand in 2014. Firstly, I joined the Faculty of Political Science for one year. That was based on a private contact who introduced me to Thammasat University. While I was at the Faculty of Political Science, I got an invitation for academic cooperation from Assistant Professor Dr Munin Pongsapan and other representatives from the Faculty of Law. In 2015, I changed to become a lecturer at the Faculty of Law. At the same time, I also became a representative for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which is an organisation that represents German universities abroad and provides contacts for students and lecturers between Germany and Thailand. Moreover, I joined the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) at our Faculty.”

Question (2) : How long have you been in Thailand and how do you find it? And what do you like most about being in Thailand?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : “I enjoy being in Thailand very much. I have been living in Thailand for five and a half years since the beginning of 2014. I enjoy being in Thailand because Thailand is very rich in culture and offers a lot of interesting tourist destinations and food. The academic environment at Thammasat University is quite perfect for me, too. It allows me to do research on topics of my interest and to get in contact with highly motivated colleagues and students. Therefore, I enjoy my life in Thailand, especially in this institution, Thammasat University.”

“I would say the friendliness of the Thai people. I am not saying that to impress the Thai people, but it is true. It is particularly true since I have learnt the Thai language, which I tried to do right from the start when I came here. When I speak Thai with the locals, they are extremely surprised but also happy and friendly. This daily interaction is very rewarding. Therefore, talking with Thai people is something I enjoy very much.”

(What do you miss about Germany?) First of all, I miss my family. My parents and my brother are in Germany and I try to visit them as much as possible. I also miss the change of seasons. The weather in Thailand is stable. The temperature here is quite high. I miss the change of seasons, the change of temperature and the way that nature changes. Another common thing that German people abroad miss is German bread. It is quite hard to find German bread in Thailand.”

(Where can you buy German products in Bangkok?) There are some supermarkets that have German products. For the bread, it needs to be produced here in Thailand. There are only a few places where you can find it.”

Question (3) : How good is your Thai language skill?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : For the daily life, it is sufficient. I can understand most of daily interactions. My fiancée and I mostly speak Thai with each other. I also learnt to read and write Thai. I do research about Thai law in Thai. Therefore, learning to read and write in Thai gives me a broader scope for my work. However, when I am in a group of Thai people where everyone speaks quickly at the same time, it can be hard for me to follow the conversation. For me, ideally, when I speak with one person, I can focus on that person and understand what that person says. However, in a group or in a restaurant where it is noisy, it can be quite difficult for me to follow the conversation.”

(Do you think Thai is a difficult language?) “Yes. I think the Thai language is difficult because of its pronunciation and tones. The German language, for example, does not have tones. You can pronounce the words in any tone, and they still have the same meaning. In the Thai language, there are different tones and you have to speak exactly. For foreigners who came from a country that does not have tones in its language, it is quite challenging. My teacher at my Thai language school had to be strict with me to make sure that I speak correctly. The Thai grammar, however, is not that difficult. It is possible to form a phrase or a sentence, quickly. However, the formal Thai and a polite way of expression is another level and challenge.”

(Are there any sounds you cannot pronounce?) “Nowadays, I can pronounce most of the sounds. I remember at the beginning I had difficulties with the “ng” because, in German or English, the “ng” is only at the end  not at the beginning of words like in the Thai language. I struggled with that for a little. For the remaining sounds, Thai language has a similarity with English and German.”

(Can you teach in the Thai language?) Not yet. The reason is that the legal terminology in Thai is quite specific. It takes more time to learn this terminology. As I said, for reading and analysis of Thai sources, I can understand and do the research in Thai language. However, for teaching and communication with Thai students, I need to be more familiar with the Thai legal terminology.”

Question (4) : What courses have you taught at the Faculty of Law and other faculties?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : I teach courses in Public Law, Constitutional Law, German Law and Business Crimes at the Faculty of Law. These are the courses where I am the course convenor. I also teach with other lecturers in other subjects such as Introduction to Law and Legal Systems, Legal Skills, EU Law, Law on Information Technology and Advanced Criminal Law. Therefore, my main focus is on Public Law and Criminal Law. I also teach European Affairs at the Faculty of Political Science.”

(Have you taught any courses at our Rangsit Campus?) I have taught some sessions in the course Introduction to German Law in the Thai programme. For the LLB programme, I teach Introduction to German Law which is a summer course, however at Tha Phra Chan.”

Question (5) : Did you teach at a German University before? How different is teaching in Thailand from teaching in Germany?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : Yes, I taught tutorials at Humboldt University as a teaching assistant.”

Firstly, at Thammasat, the students in the Thai Programme and the International Programme are quite different. I think that the students in the Thai Programme may be a bit quieter. This may be because of a sense of respect and hierarchy. The students in the International Programme have a bit more direct relation and open interaction with the lecturers. This is probably due to their language skills and their backgrounds of having studyied in international schools. German students are more like the students in the International Programme because they have a more direct way of communication with the instructors. They are willing to ask critical questions and even to question the authority of the instructor.”

Question (6) : What do you think about our international LLB Programme that allows students to study Thai laws in English? 

Dr Lasse Schuldt : This is an innovative programme. It started as an experiment. But now, I think it has become a very firm part of Thammasat’s legal education. There were initial doubts whether Thai laws can be taught in English. Law is a discipline based on language and arguments. Therefore, the legal terminology is quite important. Nonetheless, this programme makes sure that Thai terminology is also introduced. This is a solution that makes it possible for our graduates to work in international law firms or other international organisations while still having received legal education in the Thai legal system. I think what started as an experiment has already graduated to become a proper and suitable legal education.”

(What is your future career plan?) My future plan is to continue my career as a professor at Thammasat University and to help to continuously improve the LL.B. Programme. If the Faculty allows me, I would like to continue to teach here and do research but also to help the faculty to develop more international outreach. Among my priorities would be to increase our faculty’s output in English publications and to reach out to German universities and other institutions, also from other parts of the world. CPG can also play an important role in this regard.”

Question (7) : What is legal education like in Germany?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : Legal education in Germany is provided exclusively by universities, like in Thailand. There are about forty law faculties in Germany. The end of the first part of legal education in Germany is the first state examination, after about four to five years of study. Though legal education is provided by universities, the examination is, to a large extent, conducted by a state authority. Only 30 per cent of this examination can be run by the university itself. The remaining 70 per cent of this examination are done by the state authority. The idea behind this is to achieve an equal quality of legal education and to make sure that all legal practitioners have sufficient legal knowledge.”

Students always ask me where is the best place to study law in Germany? I usually say that it depends on your preferred location and the specialisation of the faculty. However, the quality of education is the same everywhere in Germany.”

After the first state examination, two more years of practical education are required to be permitted to take the second state examination. For instance, the students have to work at a court, at the public prosecutor’s office, at administrative authorities and at law firms, which is the longest part because most graduates become lawyers. During these practical stages, students receive the necessary knowledge about procedures and procedural laws. After passing the second state examination, graduates can become legal professionals without any further examination.”

The legal education in Germany is quite competitive. Approximately one-third of the students fail in the first state examination. They have one more chance to take the examination again. There is also a high rate of drop-outs during the first semesters. The way of grading is quite strict.”

(Are you aware of recent movements or legal developments of German Law, either private law or criminal law?) “German criminal law does not provide for corporate criminal liability. Legal persons cannot be punished under German criminal law. They can only be subjected to administrative sanctions. This issue is currently debated. The government is considering to introduce a new system which may, over time, result in criminal liability. That would be a significant change. Germany and Greece are the only two countries in Europe that do not have corporate criminal liability. There is a strong resistance against this, particularly by criminal law scholars who believe that in order to punish a person, personal guilt needs to be established. Guilt refers to a person’s understanding that an action was wrong. However, a juristic person does not have a conscience but is constructed by law. The majority opinion among German scholars is still that the criminal law should only be applied to natural persons.”

Question (8) : As a human rights lawyer, do you think if there are any serious problems with human rights in Thailand?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : In terms of protection of individual rights, I think that Thailand has made some progress since the new government has been formed earlier this year. Throughout the five years of military rule, several individual rights were restricted such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Now we can see a relaxation in this regard. Criticism of the government is possible to a larger extent than before. Another important issue, not only in Thailand but in many other countries, is related to the fact that environmental rights or the right to a clean environment have increasingly come under pressure. More people suffer from environmental pollution. The livelihood and also personal living conditions are affected by that. There is still a debate whether this is a human right. I would consider it as a right worthy of protection and a right that governments should take more seriously so that improvements can be made, not only in Thailand but in many countries in the world.”

Question (9) : People tend to think that German people are serious and strict about rules, but Thai people are quite different. How do you feel about that?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : It is quite a cliché that Germans are strict with discipline and that they follow all the rules. However, in daily life, it might not always be true. This perception, nonetheless, is quite positive because it reflects the trust of others in the discipline of the German people. However, I would not like to exaggerate that. Germans also sometimes like to break rules and behave in ways that are contrary to what the laws require. In Germany, people value freedom very much. Although we consider that we need a system that allows people to live together peacefully, at the same time, we do not want too many rules that would restrict freedom disproportionately. Therefore, the perception of German order and discipline may be a bit exaggerated. On the other hand, the perception of disorder in Thailand is also exaggerated. I do not have the feeling that people here do not respect rules. The difference is not as big as people try to present it.”

Question (10) : Are you aware that Thai law has been greatly influenced by German law and what do you think of that?

Dr Lasse Schuldt : Yes, I am aware of the German influences on the development of Thai laws. Particularly, the private law is influenced to a significant extent via the influence of Japanese law which has also been influenced by German laws. It is interesting that the German laws have been able to inspire the drafters in many countries to follow some German principles. This shows that the drafters and legal scholars in Germany have been quite consistent in developing principles that are able to address many legal and social issues in suitable ways. It makes me a bit proud that many German law principles have been adopted by Thailand and other countries in the world.”

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