PPT wants to take issue with two reports at important international media outlets.
At the Wall Street Journal, James Hookway raises the specter that “Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra faces the possibility her party could be dissolved, just one year after her landslide election victory.” Hookway is referring to the Constitutional Court beginning to hear arguments:
on whether the methods used by her Puea Thai (For Thais) party in attempting to amend the constitution—written after the military overthrew Ms. Yingluck’s elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra in a 2006 coup—are illegal.
Hookway neglects to mention that the court’s intervention is arguably both unlawful and unconstitutional. He continues that:
The court will also hear a claim that Ms. Yingluck’s government plans to end the role of Thailand’s revered king [PPT: this is the term that almost all international journalists feel compelled to use in describing the king for fear of lese majeste] as head of the country’s constitutional democracy.
Of course, Hookway should also say that this is a nonsense, for the bill being considered only does what the opposition and royalists once demanded – establish a wider process of consultation than the junta’s constitution allows. When the military’s committee drew up the constitution they allowed parliament to change it, and they thought their side would control parliament after they rigged all the processes.
Why it is that the royalists, ultra-royalists, and judiciary do not want to see any amendment to the military junta’s constitution, not ever. Hookway is right when he says that this lot fear that Puea Thai might strip:
military officers of their immunity from prosecution—which has prevented their facing legal consequences for leading the 2006 coup—and making Parliament’s upper house, the Senate, fully elected. Under current law, half the seats are appointed.
In other words, they want the military’s undemocratic constitution because they feel that democracy will reduce the royalist elite’s economic and political hegemony. The big (unspoken) fear is that they oppose the idea of an elected constitutional drafting committee because they fear that an election will likely favor the Puea Thai Party. They hate the idea that the “great unwashed” – to cite the Democrat Party’s former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij- will have a say.
Hookway goes on to observe that “Thai courts have twice brought down pro-Thaksin [Shinawatra] governments since the 2006 coup.” There’s no mention that both cases were conducted by the sham judiciary protecting the royalist elite.
Like so many other reports, this one links the constitutional amendment battle with the issue of exonerating Thaksin and anyone else “charged with crimes linked to the country’s political upheavals since 2005.” This is a separate action, and the reasons why this “is resisted by powerful bureaucrats, army leaders and a large segment of the country’s middle class” is no mystery.
At Reuters, Martin Petty reports that Yingluck “has helped maintain a fragile peace since being swept to power in a divided country one year ago.” He adds that “the honeymoon might not last much longer…”. PPT hadn’t noticed much of a honeymoon.
Petty says of the end of the honeymoon:
Two bills [in fact there are five] being pushed through the normally sluggish parliament at extraordinary speed have triggered a brawl among members, a blockade of the assembly by anti-Thaksin “yellow shirt” activists and a court-ordered suspension on the grounds that the legislation could be a plot to overthrow the monarchy.
Petty makes no comment on how nonsensical this claim is, but cites the Democrat Party:
The parliamentary opposition says the bills – one to set up an elected assembly to amend an army-drafted constitution and the other a reconciliation plan [there are four of these] all but certain to involve a general amnesty – are designed to clear Thaksin’s name and return $1.5 billion of assets confiscated from him.
The media does the work of the Democrat Party’s nonsense peddlers by combining discussion of these bills. It should not be forgotten that many red shirts have opposed the reconciliation bills. The issue for the undemocratic Democrat Party is to oppose a democratic reform that would allow for a democratic revision of an undemocratic constitution.
One interesting footnote to the Petty report is the quoting of “former finance minister and opposition Democrat Party heavyweight Korn Chatikavanij” saying it is “pointless to criticize her [Yingluck].” The attitude his comments reveal are as if Korn is living in patriarchal and paternalistic time warp:
We stay out of it because, frankly, whatever she does is not really relevant. Her job is to look pretty and smile and be as photogenic as possible, and she’s done that job very well.