The Ombudsman reaks

28 06 2012

Once before PPT mentioned the American humorist Al Franken. Al is now a Senator for Minnesota as a member of Minnesota’s Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. (That’d be a great name for a party in Thailand.) We mentioned Al by reference to his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. We get the feeling that the Office of the Ombudsman should get a chapter in a book like this for Thailand.

In a report at The Nation, it is best to read the bottom of the article first:

Regarding confusion about complaints filed in the two cases [of ethical issues faced by Puea Thai’s Nattawut Saikua and the PADocrat Kasit Piromya], the spokesman said initial checks on the database did not locate any complaints on the Natthawut case but the flawed database had been rectified by the repeat search of documents kept in the archive.

Confusion followed because in an earlier statement, the ombudsman relied on the flawed checks to cite the absence of complaints filed in the Kasit case as reason why it dealt with Natthawut and not Kasit.

Hmm, let’s try to understand this. We think the report is wrong in the first paragraph, and refers to complaints against Kasit. Even so, the second paragraph seems clear enough. A while ago, PPT asked:

Remind us, did the Office of the Ombudsman issue any statement on Kasit? Did it question his ethics? Did it state that he should step down? Not as far as we can tell. PPT draws a blank when we search for evidence that the Ombudsman was even-handed.

The Ombudsman seems to state that it didn’t have a case against Kasit, but now that it has “rectified” its “flawed” database, it now finds one. That seems to reak of sardines, but let’s move on.

The Ombudsman, having found the complaints, also seems to have found a decision on each case. That is, they have now found a complaint against Kasit and they have also now found a ruling by their office. Hmm, where is that fishy smell coming from?

In these circumstances, is it any wonder that “the rulings were different due to two sets of circumstances.”

If readers are lost at this point, just think of double standards. The Office of the Ombudsman is trying to show that it “did not have double standards in connection with its two rulings on the political ethics code involving former foreign minister Kasit and current Deputy Agriculture Minister Nattawut.

As the report states, “Kasit and Natthawut both face terrorism charges stemming from politically violent incidents in 2008 and 2010 respectively.”

The Office is now reported as stating that “the Kasit case came to light when the Abhisit Vejjajiva government named him in the Cabinet line-up.” That could be true, but it is nicely convenient for it allows that double standard to be freely applied:

At the time of Kasit’s ministerial appointment, the police were still investigating his involvement in street protests led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The legal proceedings had not reached the prosecution stage and Kasit had not been indicted…. The then chief ombudsman … ruled to dismiss the case citing the lack of evidence to indict Kasit.

The Office of the Ombudsman can thus ramble about the Nattawut case being different because the Democrat Party government (with Kasit in a ministerial seat) immediately threw Nattawut and his comrades in jail in a frenzy of jailings as it used guns and emergency decrees to put down red shirts.

Hmm. Kasit was charged in July 2009 and there was a kerfuffle then about his capacity to continue to serve and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva agreed that he could continue as a minister. He stayed on until an election finally threw Abhisit and Kasit out. What did the Ombudsman do then? Nothing it seems. Convenient for Kasit and Abhisit.

Yet the Office of the Ombudsman feels able to rule on Nattawut. How convenient for Abhisit (and Kasit).

PPT thinks the Ombudsman is only telling part of a story and is doing a lot of posterior covering. The problem seems to be that the posterior is just too large to be covered and the double standard involved is there for all to see. It’s like Pinocchio’s nose.


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