Replacing the king I

12 01 2016

Article 7 of the 1997 and 2007 constitutions has been controversial. This has been because it has been a rallying cry for every anti-democratic movement since the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Article 7 of the 1997 charter was used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it in his well-known Journal of Contemporary Asia article, the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin, supported by both PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006. They made another call for its use in 2012 and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee tried again in 2013-14.

As Connors explains it, Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed. He argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all … new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

While the 2005 plea was rejected by the palace, it led to the king’s call on the judiciary to intervene following the abortive 2006 election, which eventually led to the 2006 military coup and the political struggles that have continued to this day as the royalists prefer the intervention of unelected and unrepresentative powers against elected and popular political regimes. Article 7 pits the elite against the people.

Today The Nation reports that the current Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) says that it has “removed the highly controversial Article 7 from the draft charter yesterday as the commission entered its final week of work.” According to the report, the CDC “expressed the opinion that it was inappropriate that the revered [sic.] Royal institution would make such a decision, so power was transferred to the Constitutional Court to make the final judgement in cases of deadlock.”

In effect, the power that has resided with the conservative monarchy is now to be transferred to an unelected body that it arguably the most conservative, royalist and politicized of all such institutions. It does this to insulate the royalist elite from both elected governments and from a doddery king and from any future king who may not be as predictable and trustworthy as the elite would want.





Updated: When transfers are acceptable

12 01 2015

Back in May 2014, then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was dismissed by a verdict of the Constitutional Court. Her “crime” was to transfer one official, or as the New York Times stated it, “having impure motives when she transferred a bureaucrat three years ago.” Reasonable commentators referred to this verdict as biased, politicized and ridiculous.

Yet if the Constitutional Court declared her single act improper then, what should it say now about what the Bangkok Post says: is a set of transfers impacting “73 positions at the Metropolitan Police Bureau … and 130 positions at the Central Investigation Bureau…”? We ask because that Post says these transfers “involve many officers from the old power clique of the Yingluck administration.”

We know that the Constitutional Court will say nothing. Because this court is politically biased towards anti-democrats and royalists, it is more likely to cheer the police transfers.

Double standards define Thailand’s judiciary and there is no justice.

The new officers brought in are mostly close to General Prawit Wongsuwan and worked for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

Part of the changes taking place also owe something to palace house-cleaning.

Update: Interestingly, the Bangkok Post reports that the puppet Constitutional Drafting Committee is to give the Constitutional Court the power that the royalists have long begged the king to provide under Article 7 of the last couple of constitutions. Rather than have the monarchy step in – and the royalists won’t trust it when the old man is dead – the Constitutional Court will step in to “solve” political crises. This seems to have been the king’s desire since 2006, and the royalist puppets are keen on engineering it.





Anti-democrats and the “political vacuum”

19 05 2014

How do anti-democrats create a “political vacuum”? It seems they are in the process of hunting down ministers, breaking into their houses and may be trying to capture them. FascistsThat’s what social media accounts are reporting.

This follows “advice” by royalist Meechai Ruchupan that Article 7 may be able to be used in a case where, say, the whole cabinet was dead or had vacated their positions. The anti-democrat leaders have now sent mobs in search of ministers.

With red shirts retaliating with a bounty on Suthep Thaugsuban.

This could get even nastier and create volatile situations that might spin out of control quickly.

 





“Listening” to anti-democrats

14 05 2014

Listening to anything that the anti-democrats is risky. For a start, they make stuff up. But let’s look at who is listening to them and what the current calls are.

At the Bangkok Post the reports are of the anti-democrats still calling for the Senate to break the so-called political impasse. We note that Suthep Thaugsuban’s self-imposed deadline of last Monday for the Senate to act has passed, but his idea of deadlines and “last” seem flexible.

The Post calls this “analysis”:

Without the House of Representatives and parliament president in charge of parliamentary affairs, the Senate is the only functioning legislator. The PDRC is counting on the institution to invoke Section 7 of the charter and nominate an interim prime minister for royal endorsement, a move it believes will lend legitimacy to the group’s call.

In fact, it is tripe and nonsense. The constitution is clear on the role of the senate when the House has been prorogued:

Section 132. During the expiration of the term or the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Senate shall not hold its sitting except in the following cases:

(1) a sitting at which the Senate shall act as the National Assembly under section 19, section 21, section 22, section 23 [all to do with the monarchy and succession] and section 189 [a declaration of war], and the votes taken shall be based on the number of senators;

(2) a sitting at which the Senator shall consider of a person for holding office under the provision of this Constitution;

(3) a sitting at which the Senate shall consider and pass a resolution removing a person from office.

So the Post is engaging in anti-democrat myth-making, and even cites the yellow-shirted, stage monger anti-democrat Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who is said that the anti-democrat’s anti-constitutional demands on the senate is “to ensure its campaign for political reform sticks to the charter.” As we noted above, this is an anti-democrat fairy tale. Or to state it more bluntly, it is a lie.

Sombat’s lie is that “the Senate the only functioning legislator that can solve the crisis and it has been careful with its approach in order not to stir up accusations it is calling for unconstitutional changes.” It is a lie and it is unconstitutional.

Despite this, and apparently defying the constitution – which derives from the last yellow-shirted and military intervention – “Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai … rose to the occasion as he hosted an informal discussion among senators to find a solution to the crisis.” He can talk all he wants, and the Post can promote this nonsense as something heroic, but it is all based on a lie. He is doing the work of the anti-democrats, supported by the so-called”Group of 40 Senators” who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow.

Surachai’s connivance in unethical and unconstitutional behavior is seen in his decision “not to resign as the first deputy Senate Speaker when he contested the Senate Speaker post last Friday…. Mr Surachai could not take a chance with the caretaker government, which might try to stall his appointment.”

Anti-democrats united - CopyAlso at the Bangkok Post, it is reported that it was Surachai who granted “permission for People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban to enter parliament premises and hold a closed-door discussion with him…”. More than that, the Post describes Surachai as offering a “gracious welcome.” It is kind of mad that anti-democrats stroll the floors of parliament, which, apart from the appointed dross of the senate, is meant to be about elections and representation.

But then it is probably symbolic that the anti-democrat boss should do this when the mostly unelected senators (only 86 senators attended) are discussing unconstitutional and unlawful actions.

Suthep even demanded that he be allowed to speak to senators, and the usual band of anti-democrat senators apparently supported this. Even Surachai seemed to reason that this would be a dopey political move and “agreed to meet for talks with Mr Suthep and other PDRC co-leaders in a reception room behind closed doors.”

Getting back to matters “constitutional,” the unelected Senator Paiboon Nititawan seemed unaware of the basic law, saying the “Senate, as the only legislative body remaining, is duty-bound to find a way out of the conflict,” and insisting that it appoint a new premier.

Meanwhile, in yet another report at the Bangkok Post Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he’s not necessarily taking old men’s advice, but lauded these meddling has-beens “for at least proposing a way out, unlike people who seek only to blame others without regard for the damage being caused to the country.” This general is praising these old men, led by General Saiyud Kerdpol, a former counterinsurgency soldier and buddy of Privy Council President and former General Prem Tinsulanonda for using the king’s constitutional role unconstitutionally (also see these interviews on this). That is, the proposal to use Article 7:

Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.

For proposing the unconventional – indeed, unlawful – the “army chief said he admired the Rattha Bukkhon [old men] group for its loyalty to the royal institution and its good intention in trying to restore peace to the country.”

It gets worse when the old men, other anti-democrats and the great unelected get together. Khaosod reports that the senate’s Surachai has demanded that the interim government which is awaiting the Election Commission to do its lawful duty and schedule an election, present a “new solution.”Surachai appears to say this should be a response to the (unlawful) actions by the senate and other anti-democrats. He states that “Article 7 might be invoked if the government does not present its own solution to the ongoing political crisis.”

As Khaosod points out, “Surachai’s comments appear to ignore that the caretaker government has consistently offered elections as a solution for resolving the country’s protracted political crisis.” In fact, this is not a solution for anti-democrats, so it simply does not enter their pantheon of (anti-democratic) solutions for the crisis they have largely created.

One reader tells us “there is no law in Thailand,” and we are tempted to agree. One thing is certain, and that is that the anti-democrats couldn’t give a toss for the country’s basic law, even when it is a constitution they designed and manipulated. For them, its their rules or what they say are the rules, and nothing else matters.





Academic confusion

16 02 2014

When elements of the elite get mobilized, making their usual claims about the need for (false) compromise, appointed prime ministers and “national governments,” often they have a gaggle of “academic” handmaidens ready to support them.

In the past, “academics” have often been the elite’s minions, providing “advice,” acting as “spokesmen,” or simply providing “credibility” to some nasty regimes.

So it is that another bunch of anti-democratic academics have been putting forth old and tired “solutions” for new conflicts.

At The Nation it is reported that[a]cademics are divided over whether the country should opt for an appointed PM to resolve the political deadlock…”.  That isn’t really the gist of the report, but this should be a non-question.

Any academic is is not simply beholden to the elite or a propagandist should agree with the only serious researcher amongst them,  Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkiarti.

He pointed out that the “only way out is to follow democratic rules…”. He was supported by “Chulalongkorn University lecturer and constitutional expert Pornsan Liangbunlertchai” who pointed out that the rules established by the military junta-backed regime in 2007 do not allow for a non-elected or appointed premier. Of course, many on the royalist side simply ignore all rules.

Another academic pointed out: “If you don’t want elected Cabinet, the only way is to tear up the charter…”. That may not be bad thing, as it is undemocratic. However, at the moment it remains the basic law.

The “division” seems to be only the yellow-shirted ideologue and “National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) former rector Sombat Thamrongthanyawong [who] supported the PDRC’s push for use of Article 3 and 7 to pave the way for an appointed PM.” Of course he does. He’s been on the anti-democrat stage!

His illogical argument is: “The charter writers put these articles in case a political vacuum takes place – otherwise they would not have written them…”. But there is no political vacuum, just an angry elite who want all voting to be only for their Democrat Party. If that can’t be the case, they want other anti-democratic “solutions.”

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post, a so-called “peace expert,” who just happened to be a “former member of the [2006 military] coup-installed National Legislative Assembly,” droned on about the “legitimacy challenges that the ruling party is facing and [which are] dragging down the whole nation…”.

Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies director Surichai Wun’gaeo said Yingluck Shinawatra should “reach out to veteran politicians _ such as former Democrat Party leader Pichai Rattakul and former House speaker Uthai Pimchaichon _ rather than those within her own circle for support in creating a meaningful step towards negotiations.” Of course he would say that, but the Democrat Party leadership has rejected Bichai several times.

And this yellow-shirted “academic” wants elite-level political solutions. This is the way it has always been done, but that road should be abandoned along with other unconstitutional frameworks.

Suthachai Yimprasert, an assistant history professor at Chulalongkorn University pointed out “the impasse continues as the rival groups have not been able to overthrow her administration via the ‘traditional’ way [a coup] and a new administrative body has not emerged or been formed and state mechanisms cannot function.”

Ekachai Chainuvati, who is a Siam University law lecturer, “said it was a pity that the people had been held hostage for several months as judicial collusion with other independent agencies was complementing the PDRC’s efforts to unconstitutionally bring down the ruling party.”

The “divide” amongst academics seems between democrats and anti-democrats, with the latter simply at the beck-and-call of the anti-democratic elite.





Anti-democratic lawyers

18 01 2014

Readers who have followed PPT for a while will know that the Lawyers Council of Thailand or, as they seem to prefer, “The Lawyers Council of Thailand under Royal Patronage,” is a redoubt of royalists who, at times, seem unable to understand the law, except in remarkably politicized ways. Given that they are aligned with the various kangaroo courts, ultra-royalists and have acted as propagandists for anti-democratic movements for several years, their latest “advice” should come as no surprise at all. Read it an weep for the law and justice in Thailand:

Declaration

To, Professional Colleagues, Dignitaries, Distinguish UN Representatives and to all whom it may concern,

The Lawyers Council of Thailand under Royal Patronage deems that it would be proper to elaborate on the exercise of people’s power within Article 3 and Article 7 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550 (the “Constitution”). The concerned situation’s momentum has shifted since our prior Announcement (Thai Version) on the application of Article 7 of the Constitution, issued on 10 January, 2014, as follows.

1. Article 3, First Paragraph, of the Constitution clearly states that Sovereign Power belongs to the Thai people. The Government, the Assembly, or the judiciary body are merely Representatives, who are empowered to use and exercise the three-branches-powers on behalf of the people. In this context, when the people of Thailand had no longer consented to allow any of those individual branches to utilize, in this case, the executive-administrative and legislative powers, the people could amend their legitimate rights and exercise their lawful rights in accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution. In simple words, the Thai people are allowed and may request the formation of “the People’s Government and the People’s Parliament” through the provision of Article 7 of the Constitution accordingly.

2. There are several situations which could lead to a political power vacuum; a situation that may occur when no central administrative body is in operation to carry out the country’s functions. In Thailand’s current political situation, there are several possibilities which could create such so called “Political Power Vacuum”, for example, the interim Prime Minister resigns from the position. Or if the National Anti-Corruption Commission (hereinafter “NACC”) delivers its primary finding prompting legal proceedings against politicians or former MPs for restraining the decision of the Thai Constitutional Court and illegally changing and interfering with the due process of legislation enactment, or placing formal legal charges against the Prime Minister under the Anti-Corruption Laws. In any of such circumstances, the administrative body would automatically cease operation and create a Political Power Vacuum. Under such circumstances, Article 7 will be applied accordingly

3. If a Political Power Vacuum actually happens, it is Thailand’s customary practice under the Constitutional Monarchy with the King as the Head of State, to appoint the person who holds the sovereign power to form the government (executive) body and the legislative body. However, in order to establish “the People’s Parliament and the People Government,” the current Constitution must be abolished and a new Constitution must be drafted. Therefore, after the Political Power Vacuum takes place, the head of people uprising would have to abolish the current Constitution and establish a “People Parliament.” This Parliament would acquire temporary power in order to facilitate legislative power and to draft a new Constitution accordingly.

4. Article 3, second Paragraph of the Constitution states clearly as to the compulsory application of the Rule of Law, while Article 7 will take its role when no other provisions under the Constitution are applicable; e.g., a Political Power Vacuum occurs. It means that Article 7 shall then be applied for enforcement under such said circumstances. Article 7 is specifically designed to be applied and enforceable in accordance with and subject to the customaries and Rules of Law of the Constitutional Monarchy having the King as the Head of State. Therefore, the application of Article 7 does not contradict, undermine, nor prejudice the King’s authority under a Thai Constitution; whether applied by a Military’s Coup d’Etat or People Demonstration turned into a popular uprising.

5. Under the current circumstances, although there is an interim Government and interim Prime Minster acting as the main administrative body of the country, their powers, however, are being restricted by Article 181 of the Constitution preventing them from using “parting shots”, in exercising their administrative power. Thus, the question of who would be the one utilizing Sovereign Power still remains. If the Sovereign Power does actually lie with and can be utilized by People’s Democratic Reform Committee (“PDRC”), and if the people are able to decide and to exercise this power, then there can be a legitimate act of establishing “the People’s Parliament and People’s Government” in the same manner as prior Military Coup d’Etat that took place in Thailand on several occasions throughout Thailand’s 82 years of Constitutional Monarchy. The only difference is that this on-going action will become the first peaceful and unarmed uprising, setting precedent of our political history and an important lesson to be taught worldwide following the bloodless dissolving of our slavery system during our Great King Rama the Fifth.

Issued on this 16th days of January, 2014, Bangkok Metropolis, Kingdom of Thailand.

Mr. Dej-Udom Krairit

President of The Lawyers Council of Thailand

Under Royal Patronage





Updated: Academic planning

6 12 2013

PPT has to wonder who is behind the sudden rush of academic horse manure that is being laid down over the past couple of weeks. We first posted on the partisan prescriptions of university presidents a month ago.

Certainly, there are plenty of yellow-shirted academics running about pushing royalist propaganda as truth. But this latest show of support for the Suthep Thaugsuban show is something else, with all of these presidents suddenly showing support, and some of them appearing on the protest stage and being advisers to the godfather from the south.

Who has prodded, cajoled or promised them? Yellow shirt

A useful example of this is found reported at The Nation where someone, purportedly a Dean at the “National Institute Development Administration’s [sic] faculty of law,” Banjerd Singkaneti, “who is also a member of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC),” is quoted as championing “an unelected prime minister, as stipulated in Article 7 of the Constitution,” and asserting that this “would follow the due process of the law, making the appointment legitimate.”

In other words, this is an “academic” administrator who is a promoter of the attempt to overthrow the elected government defending his own proposal.

The Nation might have also mentioned that Banjerd has an extremist political background as a member of the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. This group, as we posted in March 2012,  was one of the first organized and elite-financed groups to begin the rollback of the 2011 election result. As we noted then, it:

rallied at Lumpini Park and was headed up by former military junta member and appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and Seri Wongmontha. Apparently also featured were  Chirmsak Pinthong and Banjerd Singkaneti.

This group began a meeting then by “jokingly thanking the twins arrested on Thursday over Wednesday’s assault on Worajet Pakeerat, a member of the Nitirat group…”.

These reprehensible comments were support for Fascist royalists.

The report at The Nation notes that Suthep’s hastily cobbled together (from the People’s Alliance for Demcracy of 2005) “People’s Council” is “designed to pave the way for a royally sponsored prime minister.”

Wake us up when it is 2013! After listening to the aged king’s embarrassing “speech,” that could have been made in 1968, the obviously struggling monarch can’t be seen as an appointer of anything. His mental competence needs to be seriously questioned. Which raises the question: who is pulling the strings in the palace when the king is essentially suffering the problems of the aged and ill?

That probably doesn’t concern Banjerd, for he is about protecting a system of privilege and power. He babbles:

“Criticising us for resorting to Article 3 and 7 of the Constitution is like missing the point. We have to look at the root cause – that the government has lost legitimacy to run the country after attempting to pass a law pardoning those accused of corruption,” Banjerd said. “The ruling Pheu Thai Party then rejected the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the move to change the formation of the Senate is unconstitutional.”

Banjerd continues:

“We have reached the point where we are able to exercise a constitutional right – according to Articles 69 and 70 – to depose a government that has lost legitimacy, both politically and legally. MPs and senators are our representatives and when they have lost legitimacy, we have to ‘tear up’ the power-of-attorney that handed them power and turn to Article 3, which stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the people.

These sections of the constitution state:

Section 69. A person shall have the right to resist peacefully an act committed for the acquisition of the power to rule the country by a means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Section 70. Every person shall have a duty to uphold the nation, religions, the King and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution.

Clearly the royalist Constitutional Court meant that Banjerd should say this – who knows, they may be coaching him – following their absurd decision a couple of weeks ago, based on article 68.

Getting rid of the government, without going to a new election – yes, the plan becomes clear – means:

“When a solution cannot be found in the Constitution, we have to resort to the ‘democratic norm’ [Article 7] and not involve the King by seeking a royally sponsored PM. We can manage by ourselves, as sovereignty belongs to us,” Banjerd said.

Of course, this is a plan for overthrowing yet another elected government and has nothing to do with law, but readers can see how judges, lawyers and academics, amongst others have been planning and conniving.

His plans are dismissed by all democratic-thinking people and by many other academics (who will all be dismissed as pro-Thaksin by the royalists):

Commenting on the PDRC’s proposal, Panas Tassaneeyanont, former senator and former dean of Thammasat University’s faculty of law, said anything could happen while the PDRC and protesters did not seem to care about any legal principles.

There’s a swathe of critical commentary in one article at the Bangkok Post headed:

Academics savage Suthep for ‘utopian’ council plan

Proposal a recipe for ‘chilling despotism’

That it is. Legal it isn’t, except perhaps in the magic circle of mad monarchists and those driven by a personal hatred of Thaksin Shinawatra and not much else.

Banjerd belongs to this misguided cabal, but the question still needs to be asked: how is it that the university presidents and associated senior academics have come up with united statements and a plan that looks like it was delivered by the judges of the Constitutional Court?

A footnote on universities: many senior academic adminsitrators owe their positions to their aggressive royal posterior polishing. Think of how the various universities compete to dole out undeserved honorary degrees to royals. Universities have long played a political role in burnishing the image of the royals by having them give out degrees. They’ve done this for money – the royals we mean, who are paid for this service – and the royals gain the important luster of association with academia. Most administrations of universities are now dominated by royal posterior polishers who perform like trained seals when required.

Update: Readers will no doubt be interested in a report at Khaosod, where a royalist lout posing as a deputy rector has declared his desire to do violence to students, including Aum Neko, who protested the closing of the university by the royalist administration by hanging a black flag on the university’s name sign. He seems to have become unstable following peaceful, relatively quiet and completely justifiable disobedience. This is what the royalists fight for: blind obedience and total dominance.





Back to 2005 royalism I

17 06 2013

With the royalists mounting yet another challenge to an elected government, the only thing that seems new for this lot is the use of the Guy Fawkes masks. Even these masks are a tired plagiarism of something done elsewhere.

Just to make everyone realize that absolutely nothing has changed for the royalists, the Thai Patriotic Front or Network has dredged up a ploy that was the strategy that marked the People’s Alliance for Democracy as a royalist instrument.

Yes, in a throwback move, the so-called Patriots have:

filed a petition seeking the Royal appointment of a new prime minister, citing what it described as failures by the current government on such issues as amnesty legislation, the rice-pledging policy and the Bt2-trillion infrastructure loans.

Chaiwat Sinsuwong and his small band anti-elected government ultra-royalists have submitted a “petition to the Royal Household Bureau seeking the Royal appointment of a new prime minister.”

We can only assume that this throwback action is a reference to Article 7 of the constitution. It states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”PAD_King

Readers may recall that Article 7 of the then 1997 charter was also used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it in his well-known Journal of Contemporary Asia article, the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin [Shinawatra], supported by PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006 (p. 158). They made another call for its use in 2012.

Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed (p. 150). Connors argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all … new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

While the 2005 plea was rejected by the palace, it led to the king’s call on the judiciary to intervene following the abortive 2006 election, which eventually led to the 2006 military coup and the political struggles that have continued to this day as the royalists prefer the intervention of unelected and unrepresentative powers against elected and popular political regimes. Article 7 pits the elite against the people.





PADocrats raise Article 7 (again)

6 06 2012

As the House Speaker Somsak Kiartsuranond announced the Puea Thai Party’s capitulation – at least for the moment – by deciding “to withdraw voting on the constitutional-amendment bill and debate on the controversial reconciliation bills from parliamentary session agendas,” the Democrat Party and other ultra-royalists are pushing ahead with the plan to get rid of the government.

Somsak claimed he had “legal advice that going ahead with a vote on the charter-change bills after last week’s order by the Constitution Court for it to be suspended could cause the opposition Democrat Party to seek disbandment of the ruling Pheu Thai Party…”. Somsak blathers that “for the sake of reconciliation, I will step back.”

This is a weak excuse because a decision by the Constitutional Court against the government will also initiate dissolution. Article 68 states: “In the case where the Constitutional Court makes a decision compelling the political party to cease to commit the act under paragraph two, the Constitutional Court may order the dissolution of such political party.” At the same time, it is clear that “reconciliation” is lost for Puea Thai.

On the ultra-royalist and Democrat Party push, readers should find a story at The Nation of considerable interest.

Wiratana Kalayasiri, “leader of the Democrat Party’s legal team” – actually, a legal team is unnecessary for nothing currently in the works is legal – “said that if the government continued trying to push through the charter-amendment bill, the Democrat Party would file a complaint with the Constitution Court under Articles 154 and 7.”

Article 154 of the constitution (not the penal code as The Nation states) was in our post yesterday, and is one of the legal paths that the Democrat Party might have taken if it was interested in the rule of law and the constitution.

They aren’t, so they also raise Article 7. It states: “Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”

Readers may recall that Article 7 (of the then 1997 constitution) was also used by anti-Thaksin Shinawatra protesters in 2005 and 2006. PAD pushed the use of this article very strongly. As Michael Connors explained it [a PDF], the call for royal intervention was persistent and became a plea for the king to sack Thaksin, supported by PAD and the Democrat Party. He also notes that the Democrat Party was prepared to use Article 7 in other circumstances in 2006 (p. 158).

Article 7 was introduced to the 1997 constitution by conservative royalists just before it was promulgated, and after public hearing were completed (p. 150). Connors argues that “the effect of Article 7 was to limit the reach of all of these new [democratic] claims by empowering a traditionalistic and royalist interpretation should one be so required” (pp. 150-1).

That the Democrat Party wants to use Article 7 again in its battle to oust the elected Puea Thai government suggests that the party thinks the palace is supportive of its actions.

For the combined PADocrats, running to the king is a lazy and infantile recourse when they can’t get what they want through normal processes. It follows naturally from parliamentary tantrums. It seems to PPT that the Democrat Party is likely to be little more than a front in this struggle, as PAD was in 2005-6.

Perhaps the elite decision-makers reckon that using the parliamentary opposition and the judiciary to oust an elected government will somehow be more palatable for domestic and international audiences.





Wikileaks, palace and 2006 election

18 08 2011

Continuing PPT’s Wikileaks posts, this cable, dated 26 April 2006, refers to the king’s speeches to judges following the April 2006 election, which several opposition parties had boycotted in alliance with, and under pressure from, the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The cable was apparently the work of U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Alex A. Arvizu. He concludes that these speeches “have tossed everything up in the air, and it will be a few days before we see where they come down.”

The king is reported as having given “two of the most direct and to-the-point speeches in recent years to the newly sworn-in judges of the Administrative and Supreme Courts.”

The cable states that in these speeches,

the King questioned the democratic nature of the April 2 general elections as well as the ‘correctness’ of dissolving Parliament and calling for snap elections in the first place. He reminded the Administrative Court that it is their job to consider these issues, and opened the possibility of nullifying the elections. He further asserted that invoking Article 7 of the Constitution to have the royally-appointed Prime Minister would be undemocratic, The King therefore called on the courts and other institutions to work together to resolve the current political chaos.”

The judges of the “three high courts (Supreme, Administrative and Constitutional) will meet on Friday to propose a way ‘out of the woods’.”

This is all reasonably well known. What seems interesting is the embassy’s perspective on the king’s position. After noting  that his  first speech  to judges of the Administrative Court, asserted that the election was “undemocratic” the cable states that the king

further questioned why no one discussed whether dissolving the Parliament and calling for a snap election within thirty days was the “correct” decision in the first place. If not, he suggested, one would need to “solve the problem,” including “perhaps nullifying the elections.”

The Constitution required an election within 60 days.

Recall that, in earlier cables, palace officials repeatedly claimed the king wasn’t about to intervene and that the courts would probably sort things out. A month later, the king has intervened and is pushing the courts to sort things out by nullifying the election. His message here is crystal clear. Just in case the judges wavered, the king added this warning: “If you cannot do it, then it should be you who resign, not the government, for failing to perform your duties.”

In speaking to the “new members of the Supreme Court,” the king stated that “he disagreed with opening the House unless all 500 MP seats are filled.” His view, not tested in any court, was that the House could not operate until every single seat was filled.

The king is reported to have “stressed that the current political state is quite a ‘mess’, and that for him to intervene would only make it messier.” So this intervention must have been a “non-intervention,” for the the king publicly “called on the three courts (Constitutional, Administrative, and Supreme Courts) to work together to ‘urgently decide, otherwise the country would collapse’.”

The top judges of the three courts almost immediately announced that they would meet “to provide an solution to lead the country ‘out of the woods’.”

What a difference a royal “non-intervention” made! The Embassy comments on the king’s actions:

His very strong statements opening his remarks at the Administrative Court, and his directive to the judges to come up with a solution, were … startling. It is hard to imagine the courts really deciding that these elections should be annulled, and even harder to imagine exactly what would follow to fill the vacuum this would create…. With the King’s imprimatur to find a solution, they [Supreme and Administrative Courts] may feel empowered to propose a bold plan to sort out this extremely messy situation.”

The judges acted with whirlwind speed and annulled the election. What followed this was a palace-organized process of getting the military in place for a coup.