What rule of law?

22 10 2016

As expected for some time, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been “fined” 35.7 billion baht or more than $1 billion, over her government’s rice program.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military junta has notified her of the “fine.” In fact, it is reported that the order is for  “her assets to be seized.”

The Post report states that the order was “signed by Deputy Finance Minister Wisudhi Srisuphan and permanent secretary Somchai Sujjapongse on Oct 13 … [and] details allegations and losses to the government which occurred from the scheme.” (We assume that they had time to burn on the day of the king’s death.)

Whatever one might think of Yingluck and the Shinawatra clan, this administrative order should be a cause for great concern. Yingluck is right when she says: “Such an order has violated my rights and is not fair…”.

It needs to be remembered that the biggest “fine” in Thailand’s history has not been processed following any court procedure. (We don’t doubt that the junta-loving courts would agree, but the point is that due process has been ignored.) Yingluck had “previously called on the junta to file civil claims in court instead of ordering the 35.7-billion-baht fine, 66 times the 579-million-baht assets she declared in June 2015.”

Yingluck is told to pay up within 30 days. She can appeal “within 90 days if she does not agree with the order.”

It is also worth noting that the order follows a pattern of authoritarian decision-making by The Dictator. It was only in September that General Prayuth Chan-ocha used Article 44 “to have the Legal Execution Department seize the assets of state officials liable to pay civil damages under the scheme. The executors will have immunity in doing their duties.”boot-print

So the junta boss allows immunity for his servants but denies it to all those “nasty” elected politicians that he hates and engages in acts of retrospectivity.

As ever, the junta has trampled muddy military boots across the rule of law.

Yingluck has been “charged with criminal negligence over the rice subsidy scheme and is now fighting the charges in court.” The lawless junta could not wait for due process.

The junta is running hundreds of other cases – as many as 850 –  against Yingluck and senior members of her former cabinet and others related to the rice scheme.

Yingluck has already been”retroactively impeached and, as a result, she was banned from politics for five years.” The junta’s idea in proceeding on the 850 cases is to break Shinawatra clan, cripple the Puea Thai Party and shatter the so-called Thaksin regime.

While anti-democrats will cheer, the rule of law is also broken and it may be decades before the legal vandalism of the junta can be undone.