The verdict, security and judicialization

28 02 2010

Continuing a theme of posts on judicialization and the enhancement of security, PPT provides these two links to stories by two of the most experienced foreign political reporters/commentators based in Thailand. Their perspectives on these matters can be read in conjunction with PPT’s earlier post.

Marwaan Macan-Markar at Inter Press Agency News (27 February 2010) points out, commenting on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case, that the “800 million U.S. dollars, which the court did not seize on account of it having been made before Thaksin was became prime minister ... will remain frozen till other cases against Thaksin are resolved, according to the courts.

Marwaan cites historian Thanet Aphornsuvan on the judiciary: “This verdict confirms the continuing role of the judiciary in resolving political crises in the country…. The Supreme Court is being increasingly asked to play an important role, so I was not surprised by the verdict. The judges settled for a compromise rather than take all of Thaksin’s assets.” PPT remains unconvinced that this was a “compromise.” Thanet is further cited: “The judiciary is now so powerful it is almost becoming another sovereign power. It is more powerful than the legislative and executive branch of government.”

Marwaan sees the shift to the judiciary as political enforcer as “rooted in an April 2006 speech by the … monarch…”. He has a partial list of other judicial decisions that have repeatedly targeted the pro-Thaksin political forces and notes the king’s “two important speeches to groups of judges in recent weeks. He called for justice to be shaped by the spirit of ‘righteousness’.”

Shawn Crispin at Asia Times Online (27 February 2010) also has some useful comments. He observes that the “court-ordered seizure of Thaksin’s assets is in line with the gathering trend towards the ‘judicialization’ of Thai politics, an apparently royally endorsed concept where high courts and judges assume the role the monarchy has traditionally played in mediating the country’s complex and often heated political disputes. Observers noted that King Bhumibol Adulyadej symbolically addressed groups of judges on two occasions in recent weeks, urging them to adjudicate with ‘righteousness’ the cases they handle.” Crispin adds that the king “made a similar address in the lead-up to a Constitutional Tribune [sic] decision in May 2007 that resulted in the legal dissolution of Thaksin’s former ruling Thai Rak Thai party and banned 111 of the its top executives – including Thaksin – from politics for five years.

Crispin also notes the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s increased attention to security: “The government has pre-emptively responded to the threats by mobilizing joint civilian and security force teams across 38 provinces, including in Bangkok, and the erecting of new security cameras in areas of the national capital, including this week in front of the Supreme Court.” PPT would add that several of these “threats” are largely manufactured by a non-stop barrage of accusations and often false stories emanating from within the government.

His story finishes by speculating that Thaksin may be “keeping his financial powder dry to press his case for a royal pardon after the eventual succession from Bhumibol to his heir apparent son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.” While Thaksin is no Pridi Bhanomyong, he no doubt knows – not least through a family connection – that Pridi was forever an enemy of the palace and was never permitted to return.



One response

28 02 2010
A Verdict that Leaves a Judiciary’s Stamp on Politics & why the King visited Chitrlada Palace « GJBKK Blog

[…] this point I agree with PPT that this was a no […]

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