The Nitirat group of Thammasat University law lecturers is again making proposals related to constitutional change. In an article at the Bangkok Post: attention is given to Nitirat’s proposal that political amnesty be a part of constitutional reform.
Because the Yingluck Shinawatra government has faltered on “an amnesty process for rank-and-file red shirts accused of violence during the political unrest in April-May 2010,” Nitirat “wants to put the amnesty as a chapter in the amended charter…”. Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut explained:
Why is it to be in the constitution? That’s because an amnesty bill or decree will provide a blanket amnesty, but the proposed amnesty as a constitutional chapter will not cover authorities involved in crackdowns on protests after the Sept 19 coup in 2006 until the last election in 2011…. This [proposal] is unprecedented as it aims to teach a lesson to the authorities. It will be a concrete platform to dismantle the impunity in our society….
This is an important and necessary innovation.
On the proposed amnesty chapter, “a five-member conflict resolution committee would be established and it would have the final say on the amnesty process.”
Predictably, an anonymous “member of the Law Reform Commission (LRC) said introducing national reconciliation laws or amending the constitution to bring about reconciliation could only be achieved when political sentiments were conducive _ and now is not the right time.”
Essentially, the royalist elite will say “not now, not ever” on such a necessary innovation as they reject any proposal that seeks to make Thailand more democratic.
Also in the “not now, not ever” category is a House sub-committee on constitutional change reported at the Bangkok Post. The idea that the principal legal tools of the royalist elite in the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court’s Criminal Section for Holders of Political Positions should be dissolved is anathema to all royalists.
These two judicial bodies have been shown to be politically-biased and corrupt. In particular, the Constitutional Court has demonstrated a role as the proud defender of the indefensible royalist power structure. Replacing them with new bodies that are independent would be a remarkable innovation.
Further suggestions by the sub-committee to do away with other politicized bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsman are sure to bring cries of derision. The idea of only having elected senators also strikes at the heart of the conservative changes wrought by the military-royalist coalition following the 2006 coup.
However, as with all that is associated with the military junta’s constitution, these courts and unelected bodies are on the wrong side of the line in the sand drawn by the royalist elite that continues to see itself as the rightful ruling class.
The fear is that the royalist rulers will lose power. Their cry will continue to be “Never, ever, not now, not ever.”