Entrapping opponents

7 01 2013

In an earlier post, while we were critical of the Puea Thai Party leadership and the government on constitutional change, we have to agree with party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan when he cautioned party members that “The charter and the referendum law have laid a trap for attempts to amend the charter.”

A classic example of this entrapment process is provided in a report at The Nation. Responding to a red shirt call for the Constitutional Court refused to clarify “whether there is an obligation to hold a national referendum before proceeding with changes to the charter,” the court’s mouthpiece said the court wouldn’t respond (yes, we know, a statement of refusing to respond is a response…).

The spokesman “said the court did not have the authority to make such clarification – it only has the authority to rule which laws violate the Constitution.” In announcing its verdict on the ludicrous claim that changing the constitution was unconstitutional because it was anti-monarchy, the court stated, in an arguably unconstitutional manner, that the 2007 constitution “came from a referendum, … [s]o the public should hold another referendum to decide whether they want a new draft. If the parliament wants to amend it, it can do by each article.”

Leaving aside the rather important fact that the 2007 constitution came from a military junta that had conducted an illegal military coup, the referendum was a democratic sham. The Constitutional Court cares nothing about this because it is protecting the 2006 coup. In addition, as was reported at the time, the “referendum requirement appears nowhere in Article 291 of the current charter, which grants parliament the right to change the constitution.”

Kanin Boonsuwan, a law lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, in favor of rewriting the constitution, stated the “court’s insistence that a nationwide vote is required before rewriting … amounts to a threat against the government and parliament because the judiciary is asserting powers that aren’t granted in the constitution…”.

Know-it-all Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has said “the public had no doubt about the Constitution Court ruling…”. Yet red shirt leaders want to know if the court demands “a public referendum should be held before Parliament votes on the third reading of a bill on amending the charter – or whether the court banned Parliament from voting in a third reading.”

house of cards fallingBy refusing to comment or clarify, the court is laying a trap for the government. Like other royalists who defend the coup, the 2007 constitution is viewed by the court as a keystone of royalist political power. Clarifying a court position as red shirts demand on it is next to impossible. This is because the court cannot reveal a position that may need to be politically ditched in the battle against the elected government. Keeping all of its cards close to its collective chest gives the court tremendous political flexibility, threatens the government and prevents the house of cards from falling.


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11 01 2013
On being dumb « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] PPT noted in an earlier post,we noted: Responding to a red shirt call for the Constitutional Court refused to clarify “whether […]

11 01 2013
On being dumb « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] PPT noted in an earlier post,we noted: Responding to a red shirt call for the Constitutional Court refused to clarify “whether […]

14 01 2013
Ask the Constitutional Court « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] these seem like reasonable questions. However, as we know, even before receiving them, a court spokesman had rejected the idea of clarifying anything and the very moment these questions were received, the deeply […]

14 01 2013
Ask the Constitutional Court « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] these seem like reasonable questions. However, as we know, even before receiving them, a court spokesman had rejected the idea of clarifying anything and the very moment these questions were received, the deeply […]




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