Justice system a politicized tatters

1 02 2019

Thailand’s judiciary is in tatters. Politicized for years, conscripted into judicial activism and royalist to the core, the judiciary is unable to work independently or even to maintain rule of law.

The most recent example involves the Appeals Court upheld an earlier court ruling “that dismissed a trial against nine yellow-shirt leaders who demonstrations against late prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008.”

The court decided, against all evidence, that Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pipob Thongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Chaiwat Sinsuwongse, Amorn Amornrattanond and Therdpoum Jaidee:

were … not guilty … [when] the Appeals Court …ruled that their protests under the now-defunct People’s Alliance for Democracy … were conducted peacefully and according to democratic principles.

They had stood accused of “attempting to use force to change the government and instigating chaos in the country.” This related to their extended protests in Bangkok and the seizure of government offices. Other charges relates to possessing weapons such as baseball bats, iron bars, axes and catapults.

The Appeals Court dismissed the weapons charges saying they may not have belonged to the protesters. The court then “found that the defendants were not guilty when they obstructed the authorities’ attempts to demolish their tents, saying that the incident did not start from the defendants’ side,” despite the fact that they occupied these buildings and their grounds.

The court then “ruled that the protests led by the nine defendants in 2008 were conducted peacefully, in a manner which was allowed in a democracy and under the Constitution.”

Of course, similar manufactured dismissals were manufactured as convictions for red shirts.

The justice system has brought itself into disrepute.

Updated: Bankrupt PAD

7 01 2018

As widely reported, including in the Bangkok Post, 13 core members/leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy face a combined bill of 522 million baht incurred as a court’s decision on compensation to the Airports of Thailand Plc, for losses incurred “by the 10-day closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports 10 years ago.”

Apparently, “a legal execution notice sent by prosecutors, who were authorised by the operator of the two gateways, to seek the payments.” This follows a 2011 ruling by the Civil Court upheld by the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court between 2011 and 2017.

This might be good news for those who were outraged by PAD’s illegal actions that led to the judicial coup of December 2008.

But is it? It seems that the PAD leaders will simply declare themselves bankrupt.

The 13 are Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pipop Thongchai, Suriyasai Katasila, Somsak Kosaisuk, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Amorn Amonrattananond, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Samran Rodpetch, Sirichai Mai-ngam, Maleerat Kaewka and Therdpoum Chaidee.

While Sondhi is in jail for another unrelated offense, we guess that the rest have had plenty of time to organize their personal finances.

Criminal lawsuits are continuing.

Update: Confirming our comments above, the PAD group has thumbed its nose at the courts (again). Chamlong “said he cannot find the money to pay, and he had no assets which can be seized.” In any case, he rejects the notion of compensation to Airports of Thailand: “I insist I did nothing wrong. Why was I ordered to pay such a huge sum of money — as if we burned buildings. But we never burned a single building…”. He added that “he does not regret the consequences he now has to face as he did it in the best interests of the country.” His yellow compatriot, Sirichai Mai-ngam simply said: “We have no money. We won’t run away. We won’t pay…”.

Updated: Running to the king

12 11 2013

It had to happen. The Bangkok Post reports that the yellow-shirted Anti-Thaksin Coalition has “submitted a petition to the palace asking His Majesty the King to allow a ‘people’s council’ to run the country’s administration in the place of the present government.”

PPT mentioned this people’s council tactic two days ago, pointing out that this is something like an assembly appointed by notables selected or ratified by the king, or maybe the military following a coup, that would act without election or through some fake process of acclamation. In other words, representative democratic forms of government will be jettisoned. The justification will be much like that of the coup masters in 2006: we will press the reset button and get a “real” democratic system in place….old-farts-and-jackasses

Of course, their “democracy” comes without electoral representation.

The anti-democratic activists are the usual cast of old farts and mad royalists: retired Admiral and former assistant to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, Chai Suwannaphap;  The ultra-nationalist and PAD supporter and former General, Preecha Iamsuphan, who has been urging illegal actions against Cambodia; the ever-grinning political manipulator, Dhamma Army boss, PAD leader and former Major-General, Chamlong Srimuang, who led the airport occupations in 2008; PAD’s Somkiat Pongpaibul, who was once a Democrat Party MP, who was always pushing the party to be more activist and bright yellow; and PAD’s Samdin Lertbutr.

This tactic of running to the king is highly reminiscent of the call to use Article 7 in 2005, asking the king to dump the elected government. The call for a “national government” or a “people’s council” suggests that this lot thinks the palace is likely to be supportive of its actions.

Update: Naturally, when running to the king for support, the yellow shirts also expect the judiciary to do their part. While we missed this report at Khaosod, a regular reader picked it up:

11.00: The court has allowed Mr. Chaiwat Sinthuwong, a leader of the Yellowshirts, to join the anti-government rally and give speeches on the stage, as long as the speeches do not “encourage chaos in the nation”.  Mr. Chaiwat is facing a legal action for his role in leading the occupation of Survanabhumi Airport in 2008 as an attempt to oust the Thaksin-allied government at the time. The court has previously allowed him a bail release on the ground that he must not join any political activity.  Mr. Chaiwat said he would later give speeches at the rally in Ratchadamnoen Avenue today.

Recall that in the judiciary of double standards, red shirt leaders have been sent to jail for political activism.

The same report notes that the Army is also being drawn in:

15.00: A representative of Student and People Network For Political Reform of Thailand has submitted a letter to Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, calling on the army to investigate a rumour that the government has secretly brought in foreign armed militants to sow chaos against the anti-government protesters.

Such reports and claims open the way for any violence to be attributed to the government.

The patterns here are just all too clear and remarkably depressing Thailand’s anti-democratic Groundhog Day.

Rightist rifts

13 07 2013

A few days ago PPT posted on the tired and lost who remained defiant. In that post, PPT commented that the bedraggled group of protesters at Sanam Luang seemed to have lost its way.

In an effort to revive its flagging support, the leadership, under People’s Alliance for Democracy’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong, former aide to Privy Council leader Prem Tinsulanonda, Admiral Banawit Kengrian and a tired soldier Air Marshal Watchara Ritthakanee, decided to try to prevent Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra getting to the Ministry of Defense. The small group failed.

Behind the scenes, there was a bigger failure. The Nation reports that:

when the Thai Patriotic Front asked Comrade Pichit, aka Thongdee Namsaengkot, leader of Palang Thammatippatai, to join the rally at the Defence Ministry, … their request was turned down.

The “Thai Patriots” then decided “it needed to review its position…” which means they are going home, “citing conflicts with other anti-government groups…” after claiming to have raised and spent about 5.5 million baht.

At Khaosod Chaiwat explains that the Palang Thammatippatai had “greatly offended him by refusing to lend their hands in his group′s protest at the Defence Ministry and even ‘sabotaging’ the group′s campaign.” He blasted his former friends having “also contributed to lack of attention from the public toward their activities…”.

With the only long-standing but very small anti-government rally now at an end, the royalist right appears disorganized. Even so, we expect that the big bosses of the royalist opposition will be able to mobilize street protesters “when the time is right.”

Tired and lost

9 07 2013

PPT was struck by a recent report at The Nation on anti-government protesters and another, also at The Nation, referring to former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva. Both reports appeared to be comments on the tired and lost who remain defiant.

The first report was about the bedraggled group of protesters who have been at Sanam Luang for about two months, wanting to topple the government. As the report says, this small group, led by People’s Alliance for Democracy campaigner Chaiwat Sinsuwong,

… are not clear on when, or if they will ever achieve that goal [in ousting the government]. There is also no agreement on who should replace the Pheu Thai Party and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, if that day finally comes.

We aren’t even sure if they know why they want to do this.

It was these Sanam Luang protesters who were accused of usurping the white mask movement a couple of weeks ago.

The group consists of “the anti-government Thai Patriotic Front, the Palang Thammatippatai and farmers’ groups protesting the rice-pledging scheme… [and] … [a]bout a dozen Santi Asoke members….

The report is interesting on the rag-tag Palang Thammatippatai protesters for “their communist-style workers’ uniforms – a leftover from the 1960s.” One of them “said he was a real communist supporter, and had joined the rally to call on the government to turn power over to the people,” and then explained that:

the uniforms and caps with red stars …were provided to the group, but he declined to name the benefactor. Before he could provide any more details to this Nation reporter, Yod was taken away by security officers.

The second report, on Abhisit, who “now spends much of his political career attending trials and court hearings … “sometimes as a plaintiff, or witness – but also as a co-defendant in a trial against him and his former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaunsuban – with whom he stands accused of ordering the killings of red-shirt demonstrators in 2010.”

On his claimed innocence, Abhisit quotes his wife but my wife [Pimpen Vejjajiva] is not worried at all.”  Abhisit  says “[s]he strongly believes in my innocence,” which must convince just about everyone….

Abhisit goes on to reveal:

“I told her that someone wanted me to support the amnesty bill [which would allow former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home) – saying the case against me would be dropped if I did. Do you know what she said? She said if I negotiated with them, she would divorce me. She said if that means I end up in jail, so be it.”

Hmm. Not sure what t do with that. “Someone”? Wonder who? It really does all sound a bit weak and tired.

At least Abhisit shows some progress. For one who refused to face an election, when he proclaims that the Democrat Party must be pretty darn good because it “won the Bangkok governor’s election and the Don Muang by-election” it seems he is recognizing that elections are significant. Well, at least the ones his party wins, anyway.

The final statement: “After taking everything into consideration, including my future, I still want to be Abhisit – not Thaksin,” might be a laugh, but it is a sad and sorry claim.

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.

Challenging Yingluck

18 05 2013

In our last post, PPT commented that the royalist reactionaries were again agitating for anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activists to come together to oppose the elected government. In that post we mentioned the rather dull attempt to equate neo-fascist royalism with a democracy movement.

For a reason that still eludes PPT, the yellow lot think the motivation for a mass uprising is premier Yingluck Shinawatra speaking out on democracy and opposing the 2006 military coup.

Along with the limp web-based attack, as reported at The Nation, the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s proxy, the Thai Patriotic Front, called for 50,000 people toshow up at their rather bedraggled “rally at Sanam Luang … to demand the Pheu Thai-led government resign.”

Led by PAD stalwart Chaiwat Sinsuwong, the rally was said to be set to “continue until the government agreed to step down.” Chaiwat seeks to support the Constitutional Court, a major element of the royalist attacks on the elected government.

Already the subject of  “an order by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to move to another rally site,” Chaiwat knows that staying at Sanam Luang is important for political impact.

As the royalist reactionaries come together one more time, Chaiwat and his group provide one possible focus if the movement draws more support than Pitak Siam a few months ago.

Further updated: Political custard congeals

20 01 2013

PPT has repeatedly noted how the political opponents of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra congeals around particular causes. While the yellow-hued lot have had their differences over various ultra-nationalist causes like Preah Vihear, the Democrat Party has now come into a gooey political mix with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other “patriotic” – read xenophobic – groups to demand that the Foreign Ministry “protect Thailand’s national interest.” This refers to a small piece of land that has long been disputed by Thailand’s xenophobes despite a World Court decision in 1962 that went against the then military xenophobes.Yellow, gooey custard

Like the other ultra-nationalists, the Democrat Party and their vacuous – meaning devoid of any original idea – leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believe that Thailand will lose the “clarification case” at the Court, brought by the Cambodian government. Hence they are huffing and puffing about Thailand needing to “formally reject Phnom Penh’s claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple…”.

Abhisit supported the Thai Patriot Network, “which plans a rally … against the ICJ’s pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.” Of course they have the right, but Abhisit should be principled in rejecting ultra-nationalist maneuvering; he can’t because he lacks principles and hopes that demonstrations will further congeal the yellow custard opposition in trying to bring down the elected government.

Joining Abhisit in supporting the so-called Thai Patriot Network is the deep freeze political failure General Boonlert Kaewprasit of the yellow-shirted royalists of the Pitak Siam group. Of course, all of these groups are pretty much one and the same, but the media reports them as separate even when their political campaigns are coordinated. Boonlert says he “would not take part in the rally” but he handed over a list of 80,000 names from Pitak Siam to the other lot so they can mobilize together.

As far as we understand it, the Court’s decision is not for several months yet, so this mobilization is more about anti-elected government activism than anything else.

Update 1: A reader admonishes PPT for not pointing out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also dived into the custard, rejecting the Court’s authority on this case.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the congealing of yellow/ultra-nationalist political forces continues, although the Thai Patriot Network only managed to rally several hundred supporters opposing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. That demonstration was headed by PAD’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Chaiwat’s gaggle of mostly elderly protesters told the U.N. that it rejected ICJ jurisdiction and that “Thais were against the government and politicians who ‘betrayed’ the nation by handing over national interests to others.” There’s a social science thesis in this conception of “nation.” He claimed to have 1.2 million signatures opposing any ICJ ruling. The demonstrators also pressured the Army and then the Supreme Court “demanding that the head of the judiciary balance the government’s power to stop it from giving the country’s sovereignty away.” The latter visits were to allies, pushing them to take positions in the political-dispute-in-the-making.

Remarkably, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha then chose to speak for the Army and government, saying that “the Army and the government were waiting for a ruling of the ICJ before planning the next move.” He added a rejection of the ICJ when he stated “… he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.”

The congealing continues.


More of those double standards

18 03 2011

PAD guards at the airport seizure

There seems to be a sudden resurgence of news that demonstrates the double standards at work in the judicial system. PPT noted the remarkably blatant efforts by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation in an earlier post today. The Bangkok Post adds to the rottenness of politicized decision-making.

Here’s the main point:

The national police chief has dropped terrorism charges against Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and nine key figures of the People’s Alliance for Democracy in connection with the seizure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008.

Yes, these 10 are among 25 suspects charged with terrorism offenses, so 15 still face charges, but these PAD leaders haven’t seen the inside of jails for month on month as red shirt leaders did.

Those let off were: least surprising, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Gen PathompongKesornsuk , Praphan Koonmee, Therdpoum Chaidee, Veera Somkwamkid, Anchalee Paireerak, Sarocha Porn-udomsak, Pichit Chaimongkol and Banjong Nasae.

The decision on dropping the terrorism charges came from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s top cop Wichien Potposri, even though police investigators “earlier recommended indictment of all 25…”. Can anyone be surprised by this decision?

PAD “terrorists” get bail

27 01 2011

While red shirts accused of “terrorism” languish in jail for month after month. Apart from Veera Musigapong, all red shirt leaders and many of their followers were arrested in mid-May and remain in jail 8 months later. The Bangkok Post and MCOT News report that Thai Patriot Network/People’s Alliance for Democracy leaders Chaiwat Sinsuwong and Somboon Thongburan have been released on bail. Chaiwat is accused of “terrorism.”

See PPT’s earlier post on their arrest.

MCOT says that Chaiwat faces nine charges and Somboon has been charged with seven offences. “The duo’s bail request said the accused had no intention to escape legal prosecution as Mr Chaiwat was a former Industry minister while Mr Somboon was also MP and senator. The two had already contacted police for the surrender but the prompt arrest still occurred. The request also claimed that both are elderly people with congenital disease and regular medical checkups are needed. The court granted them a temporary release after Mr Chaiwat pos[t]ed Bt600,000 US$20,000) as collateral for bail and Bt200,000 (US$6,700) for Mr Somboon.”

It does seem that some “terrorists” are less dangerous to the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime than others.

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