An official epidemic

21 02 2016

In an op-ed at Asia Sentinel, usually blocked in Thailand, Charupong Ruangsuwan, the executive-director of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (OFHD), based in San Francisco, and a former Puea Thai Party leader, writes on an epidemic of suicides and flight among senior police and military.

Because of the blocking, we reproduce much of the op-ed.

On 12 February, it was reported that “a Thai police spokesman announced that a high-ranking official, Lt. Col. Chan Chaisawatra, had committed suicide.” Charupong states:

We believe he didn’t commit suicide. We believe he was murdered, the latest in a long series of “suicides” that began last year in what amounts to a reign of terror within the Royal Thai Police.

The claim that he committed suicide is belied by the fact that Chan had been promised a promotion a month earlier. Our investigation in Bangkok has revealed that the junta wanted to set an example for any government employees of the consequences of daring to challenge the authority of Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha….

On Feb. 8, Chan lodged a formal complaint regarding the use of the junta’s notorious Article 44 which gives universal power to the junta leader, including the disbandment of the officer’s  investigative division at the police department.

If Chan was murdered, then his “death, after 20 years of service, has sent a shiver to every police officer in Thailand.”

Charupong states that: “The news of his death has not been reported by any Thai media at the moment or they could face grave consequences including the shutdown of their publication.”

But why an “epidemic”? Charupong points out that “[l]ate last year, Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, another high-ranking Thai police officer resigned and escaped death, fleeing to Australia in fear of his life.”

Others have fled:

Police Gen. Khachachart Boondee  as well as Maj. Gen. Suchart Prommai, former 11th Infantry Regiment commander now stripped of military rank; Police Col. Col Pairoj Rojanakhajorn, a former chief of the Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 2; and his-then deputy Lt Col Thammawat Hiranyalekha.

In addition:

Police Major Prakrom Warunprapa and Major General Pisitsak Saneewong na Ayutthaya, the chief bodyguard of Prince Vajiralongkorn, supposedly committed suicide in jail. The prince’s soothsayer, Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, aka Mor Yong, supposedly died of renal failure. Former police spokesman Prawuth Thawornsiri also disappeared.

All of this is chilling:

Academics and past politicians dare not exercise free speech. Countless numbers of Red Shirts and pro-democracy activists has disappeared without any traces. Their loved ones and relatives have contacted me but I couldn’t help them. I am now living in exile in the United States.

What can be done? Not much in Thailand, where the royalist generals and their murderous minions have impunity. Charupong urges:

The United States, the U.K., the E.U., Australia, New Zealand, Japan and all other civilized nations must continue to put pressure on the illegal regime of Gen. Prayuth to respect human rights and stop murdering people who speak their minds peacefully.





The most significant “crime” I

23 12 2014

Self-designated Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has insisted that “the monarchy needs the lese majeste law to legally protect the institution.” Reported at the Bangkok Post, The Dictator declared that “as the King is not in a position to defend or explain himself in legal situations as an ordinary citizen could.” If this wasn’t clear, The Dictator added: “If His Majesty can’t defend himself, we have to take care of him…”. Funny, it is usually “the people” who are treated as infantile, not the monarch.

This is diabolical nonsense as even a recent case shows, where the Royal Household Bureau has used the draconian lese majeste law to file a complaint against woman who held the contract to supply the prince’s palace kitchen with chili paste…. There are other cases where the direct involvement of the palace is known.

What needs protecting by the general is the military-monarchy alliance that is the keystone of an exploitative political, economic and social system. The lese majeste law is considered critical for the maintenance of this system.

The Dictator went on to babble that “while foreign countries may criticise Section 112 from a human rights perspective because they do not understand the law, Thailand’s unique situation makes protecting the monarchy crucial.”

In fact, most “foreign countries” and most Thais understand that the law is a piece of feudal legislation used to maintain a modern and repressive state. This was made clear by The Dictator who was opposing Charupong Ruangsuwan’s establishment of an anti-coup branch in the U.S. as the Organization of Free Thais with the US authorities after a lengthy process.

Meanwhile, and perhaps spurred by the expansion of anti-coup groups, the Bangkok Post reports that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has been contracted by Justice Minister and Deputy Supreme Commander Paiboon Koomchaya “to bring lese majeste suspects still on the run to justice.”

Of course, there is no such thing as justice in lese majeste cases. At present, many of these cases are conducted in secret and by military courts. Even if they weren’t, civilian judges behave unconstitutionally (if there is a constitution in place) and illegally when conducting lese majeste cases. The sad case of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul being just one example.

Paiboon declared that “a communication channel must be opened with countries where lese majeste fugitives are in hiding to try and arrange extradition. However, talks alone might not be enough to see the return of the fugitives.” Sounding like a puppet for The Dictator, he “explained” that “[f]oreign countries must be briefed so they understand the crimes of lese majeste and what the fugitives have done to damage the monarchy.”

In recent weeks, the monarchy has done far more to damage itself than any anti-monarchist forced into overseas exile has.

Paiboon also made himself look like a complete moron when he stated: “We do not see this as a political issue…” but adding of the fugitives, “their crime was politically motivated.” Banally, he continued that “there was no need to put the issue on the national agenda…”.

Better tell the boss and the rest of the junta who daily emphasize lese majeste and use the law like children with new toys. Indeed, in the very same story, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan, stated that “[i]nvestigations are under way to track down the lese majeste violators…” throughout the country and overseas.

Any foreign government hearing this could only be flabbergasted by the gross stupidity of this royalist regime.





More comical military lies

30 08 2014

We assume that having to be in exile is not a joke. But the military dictatorship’s recent call for political opponents to return to Thailand for a “fair trial” is comical.

Khaosod reports that the junta’s spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree as stating: “We want them to come back. We never shut the door to them. We never prohibit them [from coming back]…”. He went on to claim that The Dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha “has personally invited all dissidents to return to Thailand, with promises to treat them fairly.”

To be honest, PPT does not believe that Prayuth understands “fairness.” This is snipped from Wikipedia [click on the image for a larger view]:Fairness

The record of the military and the judiciary is of remarkable double standards that could not be further from any notion of fairness. Winthai, and presumably The Dictator too, was responding to a comment by a lawyer numerous opposition activists and lese majeste defendants. The record on lese majeste is clear: even laws, international conventions and constitutional provisions are routinely ignored in seeking to punish the accused.

Those who have fled the countryinclude “former Minister of Interior Affairs Charupong Ruangsuwan, Redshirt leader and former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan  Wiriyachai, and historian and critic of the Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul.”

Winthai added to the lies by disingenuously stating:

“The case is the duty of the police to decide how to proceed. Everything is in accordance with the law. The NCPO will merely ask for cooperation [from Mr. Apiwan] to come back and contest the charge in Thailand,” Col. Winthai said. “Let me stress that we have no policy of hunting down individuals who are taking exile abroad.”

The media has quoted several officials who claim to be hunting down those overseas and seeking extradition. Think of Aum Neko as just one example. Winthai lied further – has he no shame? – “People who are contesting their charges in the country, those that don’t run away, get their bail release.” This is clearly, unequivocally a blatant untruth. Khaosod gives an example:

Contrary to Col. Winthai’s claim, a Thai criminal court recently denied a bail release for two activists charged with lese majeste for their role in a play that was performed in October last year. Police say the theater performance was offensive to the Thai Royal Family.

The two activists are currently imprisoned as they await their trial. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

What is the purpose of continually and intentionally making false statements? After all, everyone know that these are lies. We at PPT can only assume that the military is so accustomed to false claims and impunity that they can no longer detect the truth.





Anti-monarchy = freedom, balance, equality and democracy

27 07 2014

A couple of days ago PPT posted on a VICE story about the monarchy and the threats imagined by the military dictatorship. The following is an English-language translation of the highly confidential Thai document featured in the VICE story:

[Highly confidential]
Undermining the Royal Institution
(27June 2014)

Groups undermining the Royal Institution have attempted to exploit the 72nd anniversary of the change in government structure [1932 Siamese revolution] (24 June 2014) by revealing their organisation to oppose the National Council for Peace and Order. They plan to undermine the Royal Institution, referring to freedom, balance, equality and democracy as their main justifications. Their methods have included the revelation of concealed history connecting the Royal Institution to political events, and they have attempted to distribute reports of royal deaths in an effort to reduce the community’s faith in the Royal Institution.

The establishment of “The Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy: FT-HD” includes Mr Jarupong Ruangsuwan as the Presidential Secretary and Mr Jakrapob Penkair as the Managing Secretary. On 24 June 2014, a videoclip was released providing a declaration from the organisation, criticising the political changes made by the National Council for Peace and Order as having broken Thai and international law, causing Thailand to return to an extreme system of dictatorship. The choice to use the phrase“Seri-Thai” [Free Thai] on the website http://www.youtube.com with the username “FreeThai Organisation”, and on the page “Seri-Thai Organisation” (องค์กรเสรีไทย), is said to refer to the freedom and rights of the common people, suitable for use while fighting to reclaim their human rights and democracy.

The opinions of most of the general Internet community oppose/do not agree with the above-mentioned proceedings. They see the establishment of such an organisation as being connected to the undermining of the Royal Institution, and spread information regarding the differences between “Seri-Thai” during the political changes caused by the revolutionaries in 1932 and the present. Concerning the groups that are undermining the Royal Institution, they have promoted and joined in sharing the above-mentioned declaration, as well as inviting each other to use the tag “#FreeThai”. They have stated that they are releasing the country to freedom and update each other with information on the page “Followers of the Thai Freedom Against the National Dictator Movement” (แนวร่วมขบวนการเสรีไทยต่อต้านเผด็จการแห่งชาติ). Interestingly, Mr Anon Numpa, a lawyer, has requested that Mr Jarupong or others involved in this organisation clearly provide a statement concerning the existence of the Royal Institution.

Regarding the movements of individuals attempting to undermine the Royal Institution, during the reporting period it was found that some have returned to using Facebook or have reopened their Facebook accounts, such as Mr Thanthawut Taweewarodomkulor “Noom Retanont” (หนุ่ม เรศนนท์), who has become active on Facebook again and has confirmed his refusal to report to the National Council for Peace and Order, including rejecting the order as a denial of his rights and freedom. In addition, it was found that individuals attempting to undermine the Royal Institution living overseas, who were asked to report to the National Council for Peace and Order, displayed their passports to show that they have received a different nationality rejecting their Thai nationality and include: Miss Chatwadee Amornpat or “Rose” (England), Mr Lerpong Wichaikhammat or “Joe Gordon” (USA) and Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Japan).

Overseas Situation

Mr John William Oliver, a comedy actor known for parodying English politics, discussed the issue of Crown Prince Filipe of Spain’s inauguration, criticising it and referring/connecting it to other countries with monarchs, such as Queen Elizabeth II, by means of showing sections of and criticising ‘the poolside clip’ broadcast on HBO, 23 June 2014.

For Consideration

The declaration of actions/establishment of the “Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy” by Mr Jarupong, which Mr Saneh Tinsaen (Piangdin Rakthai) had previously (on 21 June, 2014) provided information regarding the establishment of this organisation, shows that this organisation is connected/it may contact or join in an attempt to undermine stability.





Charupong’s open letter

30 06 2014

By way of Asia Provocateur:

“Greeting to all freedom-loving Thai friends,

The very best weapons of ordinary, unarmed Thai people during the junta’s repression, is your sincerity and your love for justice and human dignity of all Thais.

Since the very first days of the military coup, the junta has attempted to fabricate many stories in order to destroy the faith in freedom and democracy of our Thai friends who’ve stood up against the repression. Most recently, the junta has pressed false “war weapon” charges against one of the founding members of our Free Thai organisation, Jakrapob Penkair. They have done so without any evidence.

This dirty tactic is no different from the one that the junta used against the students in the past. On October 6, 1976 at Thammasat University, they used fabricated war weapons “seizures” as their justification for massacring peaceful protesters. The passage of time revealed the truth and proved that these stories were fabricated deceits created to crush the people who were opposed to the military junta.

At the moment the dignity of the country and of Thai people has fallen to an unprecedented low level. This dignity has been stolen by the junta, who are attempting to shut our eyes and ears to the truth and prevent us from being aware of our collective struggle against them. In addition the junta regime is desperate to prevent Thai people from knowing of the pressure the international community is placing upon them. The junta has shut-down TV stations and community radio stations and is attempting to control the remaining news content by stationing its soldiers at media broadcasters and outlets to ensure that only pro-junta news is produced. It has summoned and intimidated journalists, academics and even ordinary Thai citizens who use social media, in order to curtail freedoms of the press and to control dissemination of information.

Thais who love and want to protect freedom – and who do so without resorting to force of arms – are committed to telling the truth no matter what the profession, age, or gender of the persons involved. People should expose and utterly reject the junta’s prison of deceit, a creation designed only to subjugate the people.

We ask our supporters and any other persons drawn to the democratic ideals of the Free Thais’ movement to distribute information from our social media networks to their neighbours, friends, family members, brothers and sisters and even international organisations. We must make the truth echo loudly, so that those with a free conscience are reminded that the junta can’t just buy our friendship and love for the truth so cheaply, and thereby use such tactics to further persecute us.

My beloved Thai friends, we will continue working together to create a framework of ideas that can help take the country forwards towards democracy. Every Sunday, for the sake of freedom and humanity for all Thai people, we will distribute a Free Thais newsletter in order to tell the truth and fight against the deceit of the junta. And when the time comes, we will walk together, standing-tall with straight backs, filled with pride and belief in the equality of all humans, once again.

With faith in the power of democracy and of the people,

Charupong Ruangsuwan

Secretary-General

FreeThai
The Organisation of FreeThais for Human Rights and Democracy”





The political struggle over Thailand’s coup

27 06 2014

The Financial Times has a useful article assessing the current situation in Thailand. It refers to a “political struggle over Thailand’s coup” that is developing “beneath the country’s surface calm, as military rulers crush dissent, opposition forces mobilise in exile and western powers warn that the generals could be here to stay.”

The Leader

Becoming The Dictator

Much that has happened looks grim for those interested in democracy in Thailand, electoral or other forms. As the article states, the dictatorship is entrenching itself, “detaining people even over emblematic acts such as carrying sandwiches or reading George Orwell in public…”. The U.S. seems to have accepted that the dictatorship is “both more repressive and likely to last longer” than the 2006 junta and military-backed regime. It is clear that the current junta and its supporters are determined to “stamp their conservative vision on politics and business.”

Business? Yes, the report mentions “economic interventions such as postponing a big telecoms auction and forcing the World Cup football broadcaster to give up its rights, have reinforced the impression of what one foreign government official dubbed a full caffeine coup’.”

The report turns to the opponents of the draconian military junta “who have fled overseas [and] have launched what they say is a non-violent movement known as the ‘Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy’, in a nod to the ‘Free Thai’ movement that fought the Japanese occupation during the second world war.”

Its leader, Charupong Ruangsuwan, said: “We are fortunate today that Thais have such an historical role model in order to struggle against yet another oppressor. The military regime and its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the country’s economy and society.”

On this movement, Kyodo News International reports that a member, Jakrapob Penkair, speaking in Hong Kong, stated that “he and other dissidents will form an opposition group in exile [not]… a government-in-exile as previously contemplated.”

Jakrapob said that a base in a Western country was likely for the movement as “Asian states [are]… likely to be influenced by the military dictatorship…”. He stated that “the group will seek international support for its push for restoration of democracy in Thailand through a free and fair election.”

Jakrapob also “predicted that the current period of stability in Thailand following the coup and the revocation of the martial law will be short-lived, saying the people will react differently when they see the true colors of the junta.”

 





Remembering 24 June

24 06 2014

It seems entirely appropriate that on this anniversary of the People’s Party uprising that overthrew Thailand’s absolute monarchy should be marked by the formation of a group that will oppose the military dictatorship. Known as the Organisation for FreeThais for Human Rights and Democracy or by the historically emotive name of Seri Thai. The announcement has been circulated in both ไตย and English (clicking opens a short PDF). The English version is below:

Seri ThaiDear Fellow Thais,

It is now tragically evident that Thailand has returned, once again, to a vicious cycle of absolute dictatorial governance. The military junta regime that enacted this – in the name of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by the Army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha – has used force to seize power from a democratically-elected civilian government. This is an outrageous act that has violated both Thai and  international laws.

It is clear that the junta’s actions are nothing but a grand larceny. What they have stolen, however, are your most precious sovereignty and fundamental rights that are legally guaranteed under democratic governance. It’s impossible to put a price on these rights because they are directly equivalent to basic human dignity – a treasure whose value is immeasurable.

Moreover, the junta has violated the rule of law, abused democratic principles, and destroyed your rights, liberties, and human dignity. These are their most destructive crimes. The junta’s attempts to propagandise these criminal acts as legitimate are predictable – with their false promise to return “peace and order” – being nothing more than a deception wherein they attempt to rationalise and excuse their criminal actions. Their ultimate aim is to attempt to persuade ordinary Thai people to believe that dictatorship is superior to democracy. This game plan of demeaning and discrediting your sovereignty is one that has always been played out by Thai dictators and, as always, it has failed and will fail.

We condemn all the arbitrary and repressive violations of the rights and liberty of Thais and foreigners by the Thai military regime and its allies in their continued attempts to turn Thailand into a “state of fear”. The military regime have also claimed that at some point they will transfer sovereign power back to civilian authorities. What they mean is that that will have created a new puppet structure whose sole purpose will be to re-entrench anti-democratic elements into Thailand’s body-politic and to sabotage the development of Thai democracy. Any such structure will need to be removed before a more democratic and civilised society can be built.

On behalf of Thais worldwide who are committed to the principles of democracy and universal human rights, I hereby announce our complete and total refutation of the legitimacy of the NCPO. The military regime and its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the country’s economy and society. Furthermore, we will do everything in our power to prevent the re-entrenchment of anti-democratic elements in Thailand, to defend all forms of freedom, to demand respect in all forms of human rights, and to establish a full democracy as permanent pillar of Thai society.

In order for Thais to establish a full democracy in which sovereign power lies fully with the people, we again completely refute the legitimacy of the Thai military regime and officially announce the establishment of the “Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD) on this day Tuesday, June 24th, 2014. This organisation will now become the centre for all Thais who possess an unyielding desire for full democracy, in full compliance with the principles of democracy, universal human rights, international laws, and non-violence.

The term “Free Thai” or “Seri Thai” – with its connections to the resistance movement during World War II – has a deep resonance with ordinary Thais, reflecting their genuine desires for freedom and dignity. We are fortunate today that Thais have such an historical role model in order to struggle against yet another oppressor. And our oppressors need to be clear – we will not remain inactive and accept the imposed order and we will fight together until victory is fully realised.

Colleagues in Thailand and other nations around the world have therefore agreed to pursue the following initial goals for the establishment of the “Organisation of Free
Thai for Human Rights”:

1. To oppose the military dictatorship and its aristocratic network, and establish the people’s complete and unchallenged sovereignty;
2. To restore and strengthen Thai democracy so that it becomes the stable founding pillar of the Thai state;
3. To guarantee and nurture respect for human dignity, equality, freedom, and peace;
4. To promote a free and fair economy;
5. To reform Thai culture so that its values are fully consistent with democracy;
6. To fully develop and improve the quality of life for all Thai citizens

I hereby announce the establishment of the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD). Our struggle will become possible when all groups and sectors work hard and actively together so that we can meet our common goals.

Announced on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

(Signed)
Mr.Charupong Reuangsuwan
Secretary General
freethai7557@gmail.com





Statement from Charupong Ruangsuwan

1 06 2014

Cross-posted from Andrew Spooner. He has a Thai version as well:

I have just received the following statement from a source linked to the on-the-run Pheu Thai Party leader, Charupong Ruangsuwan. It makes a list of demands regarding the present crisis in Thailand.

I received both an English translation and a hand-written version in Thai (see screengrabs below) which is signed by Charupong – the signature matches that of an earlier released document on Charupong’s Facebook page.

The statement is very combative and seems to make it clear that some form of organised resistance to the Thai junta is now gathering itself together.

Demands of H.E. Mr. Charupong Ruangsuwan Pheu Thai Party Leader (Through democracy-loving people):

1) Resolve Thailand’s crisis with democratic principles. Return power to the people. Hold an election at the soonest.

2) Stop “The Kingdom of Fear” and all the human-right abuses of using violence, making threats, abducting and kidnapping, forcing to report. Arrested and detained people must be released immediately.

3) Stop “The Invisible Hand” (the influence outside the systems) and the interference of judiciary independent powers to rid Thailand of opposing / different ideas and to destroy Thailand’s democracy with the notion of double standards. Accelerate the restoration of the judiciary system to international standard for Thailand to be believed again.

For the power to fight back, unite our forces to the same direction.





With a major update: Conspiracies

4 02 2014

Charupong Ruangsuwan, the Chairman of the Puea Thai Party is reported at Khaosod as claiming there is a conspiracy against the party and its government. We at PPT are sure that this has not just dawned on him, and that he is just finding the opportunity to vent his frustration.

He reckons “the Election Commission (EC) is conspiring to derail the 2 February election.” He says:

“Their goal is to nullify this election,” Mr. Jarupong Ruengsuwan told reporters, “So be it … No matter what the EC is doing, let them do it. It′s all a conspiracy”.

Charupong also commented that: “Conspirators are welcomed to pass the relay batons to each other. It′s obvious. People are not stupid. It′s all clear what is what.”

The EC is lining up with others to invalidate the poll. The ignorant and anti-democrat Democrat Party, led by an increasingly irrelevant Abhisit Vejjajiva, wants to claim that the election was unconstitutional and are going to their buddies at the Constitutional Court, claiming Section 68 was violated. Yep, that’s the bit about bringing down the existing form of government.

So lets get this right…. Holding an election is an attempt to bring down the system of government. How dopey can this become?

Update: The WSJ reflects on the Democrat Party’s inability for adult behavior:

If the main opposition party boycotts an election, should this invalidate the result?…

Now the Democrats vow to fight on by nondemocratic means, including more street protests and legal challenges. The first method, essentially mob rule, has failed, as attendance at antigovernment rallies dwindles….

That leaves legal proceedings as the most likely means for the Democrats to bring down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra…. The Constitutional Court has a long history of putting its thumb on the political scale. It invalidated the 2006 election, which the opposition also boycotted, on grounds that voting booths were incorrectly positioned.

Along with the National Anti-Corruption Commission and other nonelected institutions, it is now the chief guardian against the pro-Thaksin forces. Since it can and does strike down amendments to the constitution, its power is near absolute….

A 2014 judicial coup would likely cement public views that these institutions are no longer a check on executive power but instead a tool for dictatorship.

The belief of the Democrat Party that their path to power lies through street demagoguery and lawyers rather than the ballot box is at the root of Thailand’s problems…. A judicial coup would reward the Democrats for their misbehavior.

When a party in a modern democracy behaves like a spoiled child and boycotts an election, its punishment should be sitting on the sidelines until it decides to grow up.

That last line is delectable and so, so true. Such comments on the elite’s party will be incomprehensible to the elite except in terms of an ultra-nationalist response of “foreigners can’t understand us.”





Entrapping opponents

7 01 2013

In an earlier post, while we were critical of the Puea Thai Party leadership and the government on constitutional change, we have to agree with party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan when he cautioned party members that “The charter and the referendum law have laid a trap for attempts to amend the charter.”

A classic example of this entrapment process is provided in a report at The Nation. Responding to a red shirt call for the Constitutional Court refused to clarify “whether there is an obligation to hold a national referendum before proceeding with changes to the charter,” the court’s mouthpiece said the court wouldn’t respond (yes, we know, a statement of refusing to respond is a response…).

The spokesman “said the court did not have the authority to make such clarification – it only has the authority to rule which laws violate the Constitution.” In announcing its verdict on the ludicrous claim that changing the constitution was unconstitutional because it was anti-monarchy, the court stated, in an arguably unconstitutional manner, that the 2007 constitution “came from a referendum, … [s]o the public should hold another referendum to decide whether they want a new draft. If the parliament wants to amend it, it can do by each article.”

Leaving aside the rather important fact that the 2007 constitution came from a military junta that had conducted an illegal military coup, the referendum was a democratic sham. The Constitutional Court cares nothing about this because it is protecting the 2006 coup. In addition, as was reported at the time, the “referendum requirement appears nowhere in Article 291 of the current charter, which grants parliament the right to change the constitution.”

Kanin Boonsuwan, a law lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, in favor of rewriting the constitution, stated the “court’s insistence that a nationwide vote is required before rewriting … amounts to a threat against the government and parliament because the judiciary is asserting powers that aren’t granted in the constitution…”.

Know-it-all Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has said “the public had no doubt about the Constitution Court ruling…”. Yet red shirt leaders want to know if the court demands “a public referendum should be held before Parliament votes on the third reading of a bill on amending the charter – or whether the court banned Parliament from voting in a third reading.”

house of cards fallingBy refusing to comment or clarify, the court is laying a trap for the government. Like other royalists who defend the coup, the 2007 constitution is viewed by the court as a keystone of royalist political power. Clarifying a court position as red shirts demand on it is next to impossible. This is because the court cannot reveal a position that may need to be politically ditched in the battle against the elected government. Keeping all of its cards close to its collective chest gives the court tremendous political flexibility, threatens the government and prevents the house of cards from falling.








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