Updated: Courts support junta constitution

21 11 2013

The outcome of the Constitutional Court’s (close) ruling yesterday is that the court has essentially ruled that changing a basic law that came from an illegal act is out of the question.

The 2007 constitution resulted from an illegal action by a military junta that overthrew an elected government and a widely-accepted constitution. It replaced it with a constitution drawn up by the junta’s hand-picked committee that was tutored by the junta and its unelected government. One of the reversions to type in that junta constitution was creating a Senate that could be controlled by palace-associated conservatives. That control came through appointed members and meant that opposition plus senators were likely to prevent popular change to law and the elite’s state.KangarooCourt

Those unelected senators are essentially appointed by panels of judges, creating an inherent conflict of interest when this conservative and undemocratic aspect of the constitution is challenged.

PPT went looking for some of the claims made by the promoters of the 2007 constitution when they were fixing it.

We found this commentary in an academic paper* that kind of summarizes the situation in 2007:

ConstitutionYou get a picture from this that parliament was to have control over the amendment of the constitution, and, indeed, amendment was to be by a simple majority in parliament. You also see that the current government has been struggling and campaigning to amend the constitution since it was being doctored into place by the military and associated royalist politicians.

The court has now made it clear that democratizing the Senate is virtually an act of treason by invoking Section 68:

Section 68. No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Of course, this is a logical and legal nonsense, but the kangaroos of the court know that their rulings create precedents for elected governments, while juntas can do what they like and make it “legal” later.The court’s ruling also made it clear that it remains an essential politicized element of the conservative control of Thailand’s politics.

While not making these same points, the logic of this analysis is reinforced by Nitirat lawyer Worachet Pakeerut’s statement reported at the Bangkok Post. He calls on the “government and its MPs should reaffirm their democratic rights by continuing with the charter amendment despite the Constitution Court’s ruling…”.

He argues that “the court has no right to halt the charter rewrite, which he considers is part of the democratic duty of elected parliamentarians.” There’s nothing incendiary in this, for that is exactly what the constitution says, and using Section 68 is a ruse by the court to maintain its control and to preserve the junta’s undemocratic constitution. Worachet is correct to observe that “the ruling showed the court reaffirming its role in counter-balancing the ongoing process of progressive democratisation.”

His challenge to “the Pheu Thai Party executives, the prime minister and self-exiled leader Thaksin Shinawatra to make a bold move and reassert their rights despite the court’s ruling,” is, PPT guesses, unlikely to be taken up for his suggestion that “parliament ignore the ruling” and “simply wait for the King to either endorse the amendment or return the bill untouched” shifts the political challenge to the monarchy, and the ruling party is scared witless about such a challenge and is petrified by the idea of pitting parliament against the king.

Not only are they petrified on the power of the palaces networks but they are frightened of the opening it allows opposition political grifters.

Update: The New York Times has a useful account of the court’s decisions, quoting one of the judges:

Supot Kaimook, one of the nine judges of the Constitutional Court, said in the court’s decision Wednesday that the rights of the minority were being trampled.

“Thailand’s democratic system allows the majority to set the standard,” he wrote. “But once it uses its power arbitrarily and suppresses the minority without listening to reason, this makes the majority lose its legitimacy.”

He said the system could no longer be called “democratic” when the majority acted this way. “It results in the tyranny of the majority,” he said.

This is the mantra of the Democrat Party, which loses elections with such regularity that it appears to use a political laxative, and supports the views of anti-democratic protesters who see their rich and privileges selves as a “minority.” The Times added:

To outsiders, the court’s reasoning may appear odd — the direct election of senators would seem to be a move that strengthens democratization. But in a country where mistrust of politicians runs deep and vote buying is common [PPT: we disagree for recent elections], the court argued that if both houses were fully elected, the “political class” would have “absolute dominance of power.” (Many law experts disagreed, with one saying on television that the court’s decision was bizarre.)

That bit in the brackets is in the story and not added by PPT. We could also describe the decision as “bizarre,” but, in fact, all Constitutional Court decisions in recent years could carry that description. In this sense, they are “normal” rather than “bizarre.” In other words, the court has made the bizarre normal.

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*We are having trouble getting this link into the post. The academic paper is available as a PDF: kevinhewison.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/hewison-2010_hku_book.pdf





Further updated: Kangaroo court at work

20 11 2013

It looks like the royalist Constitutional Court is in the process of killing off yet another elected government. PPT is really distracted by other work, but this is from The Nation:

BREAKING NEWS

4:15 – Senatorial amendment bill violates..

Update 1: At The Nation, the battle is on again:

Following the ruling against senatorial charter amendment bill, red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikaur declared that a new round of fight has begun.

Speaking at the red-shirt rally at the Rajamangala Stadium, Nattawut declared: “The bell of a new round of fight between the democratic force and extra-constitutional force have begun!”

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports:

The Constitution Court on Wednesday ruled that the charter amendment seeking to alter the composition of the Senate violates the constitution.

Judges voted five to four that the amendment to make the Senate a fully elected chamber violates Section 68 of the constitution, which prohibits attempts to overthrow the monarchy and unconstitutional efforts to seize power.

 That section states:

Section 68. No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

In the case where a person or a political party has committed the act under paragraph one, the person knowing of such act shall have the right to request the Prosecutor General to investigate its facts and submit a motion to the Constitutional Court for ordering cessation of such act without, however, prejudice to the institution of a criminal action against such person.

In the case where the Constitutional Court makes a decision compelling the political party to cease to commit the act under paragraph two, the Constitutional Court may order the dissolution of such political party.

In the case where the Constitutional Court makes the dissolution order under paragraph three, the right to vote of the President and the executive board of directors of the dissolved political party at the time the act under paragraph one has been committed shall be suspended for the period of five years as from the date the Constitutional Court makes such order.

Clearly the Constitutional Court’s decision based on this section is horse manure. By rejecting “a request from the opposition that it consider dissolving government coalition parties and disqualifying MPs,” the court is seeking to avoid confrontation while maintaining the sanctity of the royalist-military constitution.

The court also voted six to three that the process used to pass the charter amendment was improper and violated Section 291 of the constitution.

According to the ruling, House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont and his deputies wrongfully cut short the time scheduled for the debate on the issue, denying MPs the right to speak on the draft law.

In making this decision, the court is allowing the opposition the right to filibuster endlessly on bills.

The final sentence in the report is the nail in the coffin:

The court said the charter amendment would give “politicians” total control of parliament, which would be a retrograde step for the country.

The retrograde step is in allowing a bunch of politicized judges make biased decisions in the interests of the conservative minority and for a junta-mandated constitution to stand. Recall that this constitution was proposed by a junta that came to power illegally and then made its own political rules.





The unelected on elections

7 11 2013

The so-called Group of 40 Senators are a coterie of rabid royalist senators who have mostly never been elected to anything, let a lone the Senate, where most of them sit as appointed senators, the spawn of the military junta’s illegal 2006 coup and undemocratic 2007 constitution.

At the Bangkok Post, we learn that this undemocratic cabal have “called on the prime minister to dissolve parliament and call a general election…”. They argue that this would be to “return the power to the people.” We find it difficult to conceive that a bunch of unelected royalist puppets have any conception of representative government yet they arrogantly demand a dissolution of parliament.

That would mean a new election, and we doubt that many of this lot would stand the test of an election. We also doubt that Puea Thai would lose. We understand that the party’s serious miscalculation on the pathetic amnesty will have cost some support, but the electorate is unlikely to elect the Democrat Party.

But back to the unelected military spawn, who just happened to be speaking in “an interview” with what the Bangkok Post chooses to call the “pro-Democrat Blue Sky satellite TV channel.” We guess they mean the Democrat Party, for Blue Sky is not “pro-Democrat [Party]” but is a creation of the party and is funded by the same elite businesspeople who fund the party itself.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, usually the spokesman for the unelected lot, “described the bill as one of the worst pieces of legislation in Thai political history.” That’s a pretty arrogant call given that Somchai himself owes his position to the military junta’s illegal act in 2006 and its awarding itself amnesty! Indeed, Somchai served in junta’s fully-appointed National Legislative Assembly in 2006.

Of course Somchai realizes this, for he is not a complete fool. It is just that he sees royalist and military illegal actions as good and appropriate and the actions of an elected government as being inappropriate.

Of course, PPT has expressed our disdain for the amnesty bill, but we recognize that an elected government that campaigned on bringing Thaksin Shinawatra home and on reconciliation does not lose legitimacy by withdrawing a bill or losing a vote on it in a half-elected Senate.

Somchai said his group of senators “had passed a resolution agreeing to demand that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolve parliament.” The basis for this was not that the prime minister has lost the confidence of parliament or came to power through manipulation by behind-the-scenes powers (as was the case with the Democrat Party in 2008), but because “the government has lost the people’s trust to the point where it is impossible to regain it.”

Somchai and his unelected military spawn, who have teamed up with fascist groups such as PAD,  Siam Samakkhi and Pitak Siam, should be the last to speak of the people’s trust. They do not even comprehend the concept.





Updated: Throwbacks

23 09 2013

(PPT apologizes in advance for being rather silly when assessing PART. Read on…)

PPT was wide-eyed when reading a report at the Bangkok Post about a brand new anti-Thaksin Shinawatra group with a brand new tactic for bringing the Puea Thai-led government down: going to the courts!

We weren’t really stunned, we’re fibbing. We were really just amazed at how boringly predictable this lot are. That said, being predictable or boring doesn’t mean that their tactics won’t be successful.

The People Assembly Reforming Thailand – yes, that’s PART – is reportedly about to “launch a legal challenge to the government’s 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill for infrastructure development projects,” which will see it asking the Constitutional Court to rule, yet again, against the government based on its royalist interpretation of the military junta-tutored 2007 constitution.

PART is composed of the usual old farts – sorry, couldn’t resist – of the yellow-shirted, royalist groups that get established by the dozen each time a new anti-government gimmick is required, although simply shuffling a known deck is hardly useful gimmickry.old-farts-and-jackasses

And, oh yes, the Democrat Party “also intends to launch legal action.” How predictable.

PART even got together at its usual spot, the decidedly yellow  National Institute of Development Administration, where it was also led by the usual suspects. One of them was

One of Part’s leaders was People’s Alliance for Democracy leader and former Democrat Party MP Somkiat Pongpaibul. Another was NIDA’s own former PAD stage performer Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket.

He let it be known that PART “also discussed other issues including the rising cost of living, the amnesty bill, and the charter amendment bill.” What a surprise!

Preeda Tiasuwan, chairman of Pranda Jewellery and head of the Businessmen for Democracy and Environment Club (any link there?), managed to come up with the usual royalist complaint that politicians can’t sold the “country’s problems,” although apart from the yellow lot’s opposition to elected representation, the reason for this view isn’t explained.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee dominated by the unelected variety managed to criticize Yingluck Shinawatra’s policies as “populist.” The Democrat Party agrees and is going to launch an alternative economic policy with its old Thai Khem Khaeng projects “as a model showing how money under budget laws could be better spent.

The Thai Khemkaeng projects were the subject of criticism and didn’t amount to much.

This is all ever so boringly old; indeed, a bunch of throwbacks coming up with throwback ideas. Yet, the old farts of PART have some supporters in the judiciary, so maybe the throwbacks are onto something (again).

Update: Above, we noted that Democrat Party’s return to Thai Khemkaeng. At the Bangkok Post, it is noted that a part of the Party’s “alternative” scheme would “serve public needs better as it would cover all regions of the country equally and fairly…”. The report specified the northeast which:

often suffers droughts and studies have shown hundreds of billions of baht would be required to solve this problem, Mr Abhisit said. The government should spend some of the money on ending water shortages in the Northeast, he said.

“The government has often talked about poverty in Isan, but it chooses not to spend in this region,” he said.

 We were reminded that “solving” this problem would almost invariably be an ecological disaster if the “studies” mentioned are those that began as far as the Green Isan project initiated by Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in the mid-1980s. The Democrat Party’s penchant for old ideas is remarkable.





Updated: Marking the coup

18 09 2013

On 19 September 2006, a palace-military coup threw out Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party government.

Khaosod reports that red shirts plan “to take to the streets tomorrow to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the military coup…”.

As the report notes,

the 2006 coup is generally regarded as a turning point in Thai modern history, sparking the turbulent period which saw the appointments and elections of 5 Prime Ministers in the space of 7 years, and occasional outbursts of political violence that have claimed more than 100 lives.

Some groups will rally at parliament to “Remember the Disgraceful 7 Years,” noting how human right abuses spiked, especially the royalist use of lese majeste, and how the military-backed 2007 Constitution had established undemocratic institutions and practices.

Others will rally at Ratchaprasong, one of the sites of the 2010 red shirt uprising.

Notably:

the official leadership of the Redshirts, the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), has refused to organise any street rally to commemorate the coup anniversary, contrary to previous years.

Update: Some photos of the parliament house rally here.





Using monarchy and judiciary

13 09 2013

Despite their parliamentary pugilism and organisation of bedraggled street protesters, the Democrat Party and its supporters in the senate – the unelected lot, of course – have not forgotten their judicial and monarchist allies.

At The Nation it is reported that the Democrat Party is to seek a Constitutional Court ruling on whether, essentially, amending the 2007 constitution is unconstitutional. In the mind of anyone other than those infected by royalist and yellow-shirted bizarrists, such a notion would seem lacking in any element of logic.

More so that the royalist bench has already rejected a case that sought to have constitutional change declared a move to overthrow democracy.

Undeterred by either logic or this judicial outcome, the opposition Democrat Party “will ask the Constitutional Court to see if the ongoing charter amendment is lawful and seek an injunction before the third reading can be held…”. The claim is that “amendment goes against Article 68 of the Constitution, which refers to overthrowing the political system and acquiring power in unconstitutional ways…”, essentially the same claim that was recently thrown out.

The claim using Article 68 is essentially a claim that those trying to amend the constitution seek to overthrow the monarchy.





Updated: Lost in law

28 08 2013

PPT admits to being confused on a Bangkok Post story citing Kanit na Nakhon as chairman of the Law Reform Commission (LRC). Readers will recall that Kanit was formerly chair of the Democrat Party-appointed Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

Kanit has come out to assert that “Parliament’s deliberation of the charter amendments on the make-up of the Senate violates the constitution…”. Apparently he sent a memo on this “warning” parliamentarians that: “… deliberation of the charter amendments relating to the make-up of the Senate contravenes the constitution.”

Tie us up and whack us with wet newspapers, but we just don’t get it. If the constitution can’t be amended according to the constitution’s own provisions, then is it some kind of divine document rather than just being an invention of a bunch of military junta and elite cronies.

Can any reader see anything in Kanit’s curious claim that has even a smidgen of legality to it?

Update: Here’s another one that confused us for a second. At the Bangkok Post, Deputy Democrat Party leader Korn Chatikavanij is said to have “blasted the government for prioritising charter amendment ahead of political reform.” Um, changing the constitution to rid it of military junta-imposed unelected senators who represent the royalist elite is not political reform? The way the elite protect the constitution that they all said could be changed “later” when it was foisted on Thailand is revealing.








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