Previously PPT noted the continuing reliance of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on the courts in their battle to unseat the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government.This reliance is a result of learned behavior and an indication of the relative political weakness of PAD in the sense of its limited capacity to mobilize supporters.
In the most recent instance, the Bangkok Post reports that the PAD has again petitioned the Constitutional Court, pleading for “an injunction halting parliament’s deliberation of a bill to amend Section 68 of the constitution.” PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan demands that the court should issue the injunction because the government continues to move ahead on constitutional amendment even though the court is considering the “legality of the move to amend the section…”.
The initial move on having the court consider the legality of amendment came from unelected senator and PAD and Siam Samakkhi ally Somchai Sawaengkarn.
As Panthep acknowledges through PAD’s opposition, royalists assert that “the amendment would curtail people’s right to file a petition directly with the Constitution Court against actions suspected of undermining the constitutional monarchy or grabbing power through unconstitutional means.”
This is because a petition would need to be reviewed by the Attorney-General’s office. PAD sees this as an attempt to curtail the capacity it has to stymie elected governments through the activation of the politicized court.
Panthep also asserts that the “amendment to Section 68 could lead to the deliberation of another bill to amend Section 291,” which is currently on hold in parliament due to the Constitutional Court having earlier ruled, quite absurdly, that “the charter could not be rewritten in its entirety without a referendum.” This is absurd as the provision dealing with constitutional amendment says nothing about a referendum. The only constitutional referendum ever held in Thailand was a military junta propaganda exercise.
And just for good measure, PAD requested that their allies at “the charter court … order the 311 MPs and senators who supported the Section 68 amendment bill to withdraw it from parliament.” PAD “is also asking the court to dissolve the Pheu Thai, Chartthaipattana, Chart Pattana, Palang Chon, Mahachon and New Democracy parties for supporting the bill and issuing statements rejecting the court’s authority…”.
Challenging the judges at the Constitutional Court is important because their political bias, corruption and their seeming inability to comprehend the wording of the constitution they are meant to rule on is stifling democratic development. Repeatedly, this set of judges have delivered rulings based on their interpretation of what they believe the royalist-military junta and government would have preferred but didn’t actually write into their constitution.