Manipulating law

24 11 2020

PPT understands that pointing out abuses of the law by the current regime is not of much consequence. Double standards, impunity, bloody crackdowns, arrests on trumped up charges, making stuff up, and so on are just grist for the dictatorship-in-parliamentary-guise’s repression. But here goes.

A story in the Bangkok Post has this line about an upcoming demonstration at the Crown Property Bureau:

Pol Lt Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, on Monday warned protesters not to go within a 150m radius from the office. Assembling within the distance from palace grounds is prohibited under the Public Assembly Act.

At Thai PBS there’s a sightly different version:

Pol Lt-Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, also warned the Ratsadon group to abide by the law, when they stage their protest at the office of the Crown Property Bureau this Wednesday.

He insisted that, in previous protests, the police were unarmed and did not resort to violence which, he alleged, was started by the protesters. He suggested the Khana Ratsadon group not venture within 150 metres of the Crown Property Bureau.

Another story, at Thai Enquirer, has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan quoted as having “reminded the protestors that they must not enter within a 150 meter radius of a government building under the Public Assembly Act.”

Social media and the Post tell us that police are now marking out a zone of 150 meters around the CPB’s offices, designating a “palace area.”.

As far as we can tell – and there’s not a lawyer among us – none of this fits the deliberately vague Public Assembly Act. There is a bit on palaces:

Section 7. No public assembly shall be held within the radius of one hundred and fifty meters from the boundary of the Grand Palace, Royal Palace, Royal Residence of the Heir to the Throne or of His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess, Royal Palace Up-Country or Royal Mansion or from the place where the King, the Queen, the Heir to the Throne or His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess stays or resides, or from the place of Royal Visitors.

As far as we can tell, the CPB is not a palace under this definition.

Then there’s Section 8:

No public assembly shall obstruct gateway of, impede the performance of duties of, or hinder access to service of, the followings:
(1)    State agencies’ office;
(2)    airport, wharf, rail station or any other public transport station;
(3)    hospital, education institution and religious establishment;
(4)    embassy or consulate of foreign State or office of international organization;

The CPB isn’t a state agency or any of the other things.

However, Section 8 comes with another point:

(5)    other places as notified by the Minister.

We guess that this allows the minister to designate any place he/she pleases. But we do not think we have heard any news on such a designation. And if such a designation is made, these restrictions would need to be “interpreted.”

Rather, what we hear is the ultra-royalist, from Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha telling the media “to ask the anti-government protest leaders why they have to go to the Crown Property Bureau” to threats:

The pro-monarchy Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, led by Bancha Panniwat and Sumet Trakulwunnu, issued a statement announcing their own plans to stage retaliatory events on Tuesday and Wednesday near the Education Ministry to disrupt the anti-government rally at the nearby Crown Property Bureau.

If the People’s Movement protesters want to go to the bureau, they must wade through the Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, whose leaders have said they will no longer allow any disrespectful behaviour towards the monarchy.

Mr Bancha said his group would demonstrate near the bureau beside the Education Ministry from 3pm on Tuesday, insisting that they were not looking for a confrontation of any kind.

He also called on supporters show up at the same spot at 8am on Wednesday.

“They can rally anywhere but not here,” Mr Bancha said.

He also said that many other royalist groups would be joining the Phalang Phaen Din Siam demonstration but vowed that violence would not be used against members of the People’s Movement.

As has been the case recently, we somehow doubt the ultra-royalists will be arrested for breaching the (fake) “palace zone.” It will be yet another manipulation of the law.

The purpose seems to be to have the ultra-royalists continue their attacks on the anti-regime rally goers.


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25 11 2020
Confrontation looms | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] use of lese majeste and the multiple threats of arrest today have mounted. The regime has seemingly calculated that the events at police headquarters and […]

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