The Bangkok Post interviews yet another royalist academic lawyer on the developing judicial coup. Former Thammasat University rector Surapol Nitikraipot essentially argues that the words in the constitution count for little.
PPT won’t recount the whole sorry tale of yet another lawyer embarrassing himself, but we will cite the most revealing dissembling.
Surapol says the Constitutional Court “is vested with the power to admit petitions under Section 68 of the charter.” The initial reasoning seems to be “to prevent any repercussions on the higher institution.” That is royalist-speak for the monarchy. This claim sees the goalposts moved as the focus again cycles back to the monarchy rather than the constitution.
Seeing the king wheeling about in a military uniform certainly seems to have energized the ultra-royalists.
Surapol agrees that Article 68 “requires petitions seeking termination of such actions to be submitted to the attorney-general, who investigates the action.” He then adds: “Drafters of the [current] constitution did not wish for the Constitution Court to initiate the investigation process itself.”
So far he’s right. He’s still right when he states: “If the legislature drafts a law which contravenes the constitution, the Constitution Court reserves the power to declare such a law a violation of the charter.”
Then the caveats come like a rain-drenched landslide:
However, the court said it admitted the petitions out of concern the attorney-general might proceed slowly. If the court had not taken in the petitions, it could lead to far-reaching political ramifications and other problems.
No evidence for any of that or for the Court not waiting to see the legislation (for which there are specific actions defined in the basic law) or for the Attorney-General (in accord with the Court’s own published procedures).
The point to ponder is how one can interpret the letters and the spirit of the constitution. What had the constitution drafters intended when they wrote the charter? Or do we need to stick to the charter writers’ intentions in interpreting laws despite the changing circumstances?
Yes, forget what the nation’s basic law says and try to interpret unspoken intentions. In effect he says forget the constitution and do something that “interprets” mysteries of the recent past and somehow lever that into the Court’s interpretation of that history.
Most interestingly, Surapol then states:
In this case, the Constitution Court interpreted [the law governing its authority] differently from the way the charter writers had intended, which was for the petitions to be filed with the attorney-general.
Huh? The current legal eagles at the Court have chucked out the constitution and the charter writers’ intentions!
But, the Court can go ahead anyway. Why? Just because they can. And not only do they have the power to do something not in the constitution or even intended by those who drafted the constitution – all military-royalists flunkies. Now that it has done it, Surapol reckons they can do it any time they like. Parliament becomes meaningless, rendering elections a kind of modern curiosity.
Then another but; it involves invoking the king (as all good royalists do when challenged):
If parliament votes to pass the bill in its third reading, it will be proposed to His Majesty the King for endorsement.
Imagine the King choosing between not proceeding further in light of the court’s injunction and signing the bill approved by parliament.
The parliament should avoid subjecting the head of state to a situation where he will be burdened with considering an issue which could invite extreme social and political conflicts.
Well, that makes all the difference! The king is head of state and he has constitutional rights and duties, but please don’t get him to exercise those legal provisions, Again, ditch the constitution!
We know that Surapol is making this up as any legal moron can look at the constitution and see that there are provisions that come into play after legislation is approved and before it goes to the king (Article 154).
The Surapol concludes with this observation that clearly indicates why he is proposing illeagal and unconstitutional interventions: “The decision-making power in parliament rests with the House speaker, his deputies and a person above the parliament who lives overseas.” He mans Thaksin Shinawatra.
In other words, the Puea Thai Party (and the People’s Power Party before them) going to and winning an election based on rolling back elements of the junta’s charter counts for nothing for the royalists are continuing their judicial battle with Thaksin.
Surapol is remarkable. He shows he knows the law and constitution and he just tosses it aside. Truly, truly amazing to see royalist lawyers and judges destroying their own system and laws.