Updated: Judicial bias favors lese majeste madness

26 12 2014

PPT’s readers should never be surprised by the political bias and gross double standards of the judiciary. At present, its the task assigned to it by the military dictatorship is to clean up a bunch of legal cases that hang over various royalists and to ensure that the political bias of the military dictatorship is institutionalized.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “criminal court has dismissed a libel case in which former foreign affairs minister Kasit Piromya was accused of slandering ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

KangarooCourtKasit’s work with the People’s Alliance for Democracy was highly valued by the royalist elite that anti-democratic in 2008, and he was rewarded with the Foreign Ministry in the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva government in late 2008.

Kasit spoke on the PAD stage several times, and on one occasion, in November 2008, Kasit “said Thaksin was trying every way to seize the country and make it his personal asset.” He also claimed that “Thaksin had issued orders to kill Thai Muslims in the South and for extra judicial killings of drug suspects and that Thaksin wanted to become the president and topple the monarchy.”

The claims were published in several media and “Thaksin filed a suit against … Kasit as the first defendant and Thaiday.com Co Ltd and ASTV (Thailand) Co Ltd as the second and third defendants respectively for publishing the speech.”

Kasit’s first claim is political rhetoric. The second, on the South, is certainly disputed, and no evidence of an order to kill has been produced. The third – on the war on drugs – carries some weight but no anti-Thaksin government has brought a case against him or anyone else involved, and we can only wonder if this is because the king and privy councilors also promoted the war on drugs and were satisfied by the murders.

The fourth claim is serious in that it amounts to lese majeste and, at the time, an unconstitutional plot. Nonsense though they are, lese majeste is a convenient political tool for royalist cowards like Kasit.

What is most interesting in the court dismissing the case, is the reasons for the decision. A first point made is that “since Thaksin was a public figure, he could be criticised.” That might well be true, but seems not to apply to the lese majeste accusation. On this, the court actually made a judgement: “Kasit intended to protect the country’s interests and an important institution. The court was therefore convinced he was expressing his opinions honestly.”

That is an invitation for every lese majeste imbecile in the royalist camp to attack all its political opponents with similar claims. The avalanche of lese majeste accusations and cases is set to increase still further.

While on this topic, we note a new paper by Duncan McCargo at Leeds University. Published by Contemporary Southeast Asia and titled “Competing Notions of Judicialization in Thailand,” the abstract states:

From Ji Ungpakorn's blog

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

This article examines the politics of judicialization in Thailand between 2006 and 2014, looking at the ways in which the judiciary became regularly embroiled in politics during this extremely contentious period. It takes as its starting point important royal speeches of 2006, and the interpretation of those speeches offered by the prominent academic and social critic Thirayudh Boonmee. Several key judicial decisions which had lasting political consequences are closely examined, including the 2006 election annulment, the 2007 banning of Thai Rak Thai, the removal of pro-Thaksin Shinawatra prime ministers Samak Sundaravej and Yingluck Shinawatra in 2008 and 2014, Thaksin’s conviction on corruption-related charges in 2008 and the judicial seizure of his assets in 2010. Some of the questions posed in this paper are as follows: Does judicialization inevitably mean conservative attempts to curtail the power of politicians and undermine electoral politics? Are judges working on behalf of Thai society, or in alignment with certain vested interests? Could greater judicial activism serve progressive social and political causes in the Thai context? The paper argues that Thailand’s “judicialization” is a complex phenomenon: judgements made by different courts, in different cases and at different times need to be scrutinized on their individual merits.

We can’t read the paper as it is behind a pay wall, so can’t assess the claims in full, but our view is that arguing that “judgements made by different courts, in different cases and at different times need to be scrutinized on their individual merits,” is like looking at individual trees and not seeing the forest. Academics do like to be careful but even the bark of trees can hide disease. In the case of the judiciary in Thailand, judicialization may not be the issue when the most significant courts are deeply politicized.

Update: A reader suggests to us that we should also note that a defamation action brought by the detestable Abhisit against Jatuporn Promphan has also been rejected. Jatuporn had accused Abhisit of being a “tyrant” whose “hands are tainted with blood.” The reader says this proves. McCargo’s point. Quite the contrary, this case is relatively unimportant. Abhisit has had several cases against Jatuporn. And, since 2009, Jatuporn has been jailed several times and has been found guilty in other courts, thrown out of parliament and has been repeatedly attacked by royalists. The failure of one of Abhisit’s cases has no impact on the weight of decisions by the politicized judiciary.


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