Protecting the judiciary

26 07 2015

It has become increasingly common for the judiciary to “protect” itself. This “protection” appears to have originated as the red shirt movement developed and became critical of the obvious double standards displayed by the judiciary following the 2006 palace-military coup.

The judiciary has been manipulated to become an important arm of the royalist elite in maintaining its rule, taking on some of the work of the king as he allocated it more responsibility in dealing with the elite’s perception of threats from electoral politics.

A recent example of this self-protective behavior is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a “one-year prison term, without suspension, imposed on Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit and former party MP Kiat-udom Menasawat for defaming former Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh.”

Wasan’s defamation lawsuit “said they wrongfully accused him during a press conference on June 8, 2010, of acting inappropriately and lacking judicial ethics and impartiality.” We have more on Wasan’s bias below.

Earlier, the Criminal Court had “found the pair guilty of defamation and sentenced them to one year in prison, suspended, and fined them 50,000 baht.” Wasan and several of his royalist buddies were enraged and the Appeals Court “lifted the suspension, ruling the defendants had intentionally insulted the judge and discredited the judiciary, despite being well-educated and holding political positions. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.”

As if to emphasize double standards, the “Supreme Court overruled an Appeals Court ruling and acquitted former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban … of defaming Prommin Letsuridej, a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party in 2006. The court also upheld the prior acquittal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Ong-art Klampaibul of the Democrat Party on similar charges.”

Back to Wasan. He was, until 2013, a politicized judge at the head of a politicized Constitutional Court. PPT has had several posts on his activities. The Constitutional Court has been irretrievably biased in favor of the royalist elite. This court has been shown to be corrupt and colluded with members of the elite, including in the palace. The Constitutional Court repeatedly acted as the judicial arm of the royalist elite, most notably in its actions to dissolve various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties and politicians and in its protection of favored parties and groups. Its actions to stymie legal constitutional change have been some of the most biased and ludicrous cases ever seen in Thailand.

The court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past decade and Wasan has even stated the biases of the court:

At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties [the 2008 judicial coup]. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

Wasan did more than any other judge to politicize the Constitutional Court. His politicized career included strong connections with  the Democrat Party, having interned with  are long. The report states the royal leader of the early Democrat Party, Seni Pramoj.

As a Supreme Court judge, it was Wasan who dished out the two-year imprisonment term on Thaksin for allegedly assisting his wife in the Ratchada land purchase deal.

He also played a role in stripping red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan of his parliamentary election victory by ruling that his incarceration on bogus charges meant he was ineligible.

Was he defamed? Not if it is considered that the defendants told the truth about a corrupt and biased judge. Yet the judiciary wants to protect its capacity for politicized interventions.

Fearing Thaksin II

23 07 2015

In an earlier post we referred to the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra evident in the military junta. A couple of new stories suggest that the fear is real and knee-tremblingly real.

In the first story at the Bangkok Post, we are reminded that Yingluck Shinawatra was impeached as premier by the Constitutional Court that ruled she violated the charter on the transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri. Thawil was opposed to the Yingluck government, effectively a troll for the royalists defeated in the 2011 election. One transfer and out the door.

That is not the situation for the military junta, which can transfer anyone it likes, and has done so many times. The most recent case is “National Security Council deputy secretary-general Pongsakorn Rodchompoo [who] has been unexpectedly transferred to an inactive post in the latest move to rid the agency of all influence of former prime minister Thaksin…”. The Dictator issued the order.

The Post reports that an “NSC source said the transfer was part of the campaign to eradicate ‘watermelon’ soldiers from the security agency.” Pongsakorn was appointed by Yingluck, so he was suspect.

The Dictator is considering a new boss for the NSC. Who might be in the running? None other than military posterior deep polisher Panitan Wattanayagorn. His appointment would be entirely appropriate as he is nothing more than a military flunkey with limited abilities. The military dictatorship has no other interest than in appointing dull followers.

In a second story highlighting the military’s fear, one of the 155 persons banned from traveling by the military junta, Wattana Muangsuk, a former Puea Thai parliamentarian, sued The Dictator-General Prayuth Chan-ocha over the ban.

He argued that the ban “restricts human rights and breaks international laws, as well as the 2014 interim constitution,” and “is discriminatory and arbitrary…”.

Wattana knows that his efforts are futile because the junta and The Dictator are a lawless bunch. He “is well aware his case will go nowhere since the NCPO chief has absolute power over all three branches of government under Section 44 of the interim charter.” He explained:

I resort to exercising the right to sue to demonstrate a civilised way to solve problems, not by rolling tanks to seize people’s power and then issuing orders arbitrarily….

He’s right, but the military lot are anything but civilized. Essentially, like their predecessors, they are political thugs, knuckle-draggers and afraid of elected and popular politicians.

Thawil’s lies continue

29 04 2015

Some may have been surprised to read at Khaosod a couple of days ago that Thawil Pliensri, “who served as director of the National Security Council under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,” has declared before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) that the “military operation that dispersed Redshirt protesters in 2010 and left more than 90 people dead was not a ‘crackdown’…”. But don’t be. Thawil has a long history of such claims. He has never produced any evidence for his position on the events of 2010.

It is more striking that the newspaper describes Thawil as a “key witness in an ongoing legal case over the incident,” because he was deeply involved in the team that planned and ordered the crackdown that left dead and injured strewn across Bangkok’s streets, many killed by the military (as several court inquests have independently determined).

Thawil repeated his claims in testimony to the NACC to defend the regime he gladly served and his former boss Abhisit Vejjajiva. The NACC is “seeking to retroactively impeach Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, for authorizing the military operation on Redshirt protesters in April – May 2010.” They are “charged … with abuse of power for excessive use of force against civilians in the operation.” They should be charged with murder.

Thawil’s testimony is the same story as that provided by Abhisit, Suthep and the military dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha. All claim that “security officers were forced to respond to the protests because armed militants had infiltrated the demonstrators and launched attacks on troops, police, and important buildings.”

Thawil went a little further when he “also contested the use of the word ‘crackdown’…”. He concocts a position that there “was no use of force or crackdown on the protests…”.

No, none. All of those pictures and videos and all the court inquests area all somehow wrong or misused and that all of the use of snipers, live fire zones, armored personnel carriers, hundreds of thousands of live rounds and so on were simply actions against the mysterious men in black. His blatant lies include his “admission” that “live ammunition was used in the military operation, [but] he insisted that security officers resorted to using firearms only after they were attacked by Redshirt-allied militants on the night of 10 April 2010…”. The evidence of that night is clear that Thawil is concocting this.

As we noted above, none of this is new. Back in 2012, PPT posted this:

Who could possibly be surprised when Thawil Pliensri defends the Army’s murderous assault on red shirt protesters in 2010. After all, Thawil was secretary-general of the National Security Council at the time of the sniper orders and secretary of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations set up by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government to crush the protests by the red shirts. He says that “the operation to retake areas in Bangkok occupied by the protesters was a legitimate one.” Of course he does. He claims that “[s]ome information has been distorted and tampered with,” but seems to provide no evidence. Ultra-royalists will believe him. He, like the Army boss, declares: “state officials who risked their lives to disperse unlawful protesters deserved praise and should not be accused of killing people.”

Thawil was also one of those behind the fabricated anti-monarchy plot diagram that the Abhisit regime used to threaten and repress opponents.

Of course, it was Thawil’s transfer by the Yingluck Shinawatra government that eventually led to the Constitutional Court’s ousting of Yingluck in a move that set the groundwork for the May 2014 military coup. Read more on that successful judicial plot here.

Purge and the military takeover

18 01 2015

Almost a week ago, PPT commented on more than 200 transfers in the police, all of them made for political reasons. We pointed out the obvious double standards if this political exercise was compared with the May 2014 Constitutional Court decision that sacked then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra a transfer of one official.

Double standards define Thailand’s judiciary and the military dictatorship.

The Bangkok Post reports another purge taking place in the Ministry of Interior.

AnupongGeneral Anupong Paojinda was gifted this powerful Ministry by The Dictator, who previously served Anupong in murderous attacks on protesting red shirts in 2010. He is reported to have engaged in “a bout of reshuffling of those who would not respond or contribute to the minister’s initiatives — transfers to inactive posts came thick and fast.” The report continues to state that “Gen Anupong will not hesitate to order another purge …”.

Anupong is getting rid of persons he identifies as political opponents and is “relying heavily on military and security officers who are required to coordinate closely with Interior officials in adjusting the attitude of anti-coup elements.”

The Interior Ministry under Anupong is said to have “been transformed into something resembling a military command centre. His action team is full of men in uniform…”.

There’s nothing hidden about this purge. It is a political act, with Anupong tasked with establishing the conditions for extended military control across the country. Yes, the Bangkok Post makes the claim that he is meant to make “sure nothing goes wrong as the country transitions to democratic rule after national reform and the constitution drafting processes are completed,” but this is ludicrous propaganda.

The purge is meant to ensure that no elected government nor elected politician can ever rule.

Anupong conducting a purge and stuffing the military full of military uniforms is nothing other than an act of future political sabotage and an effort not unlike that undertaken by dictators in some of the worlds most vicious military-dominated regimes in the 20th century.

Double standards, no justice, and military domination. It just gets worse and worse.

Preparing the anti-democrats

16 01 2015

Thailand’s Constitutional Court is a political instrument of a royalist elite that rejects notions like electoral democracy.

Not for the first time, it is demonstrating a detachment from justice and democracy in a report of one of its activities that can only be described as bizarre. Khaosod begins its report by stating:

The Thai court known for ousting a string of democratically elected political parties is now offering a course titled “Good Governance For Democracy.”

PPT won’t go through all of the anti-democratic actions of the Constitutional Court over recent years. Rather we just point to a few earlier accounts of these actions: here, here, here, here and here.

The bastion of anti-democracy trumpets that its “democracy” program is “open to members of the state and private sector who want to improve their ‘conscience and behaviour’…”. Apparently some of the corrupt and politicized judges, who have repeatedly demonstrated not only a disdain for democracy but even for constitutions, are “teaching” the course.

During the opening class it was revealed that the class included 52 “students,” many of them with unblemished track records of opposing democracy, elections and elected politicians.

Some of those named in the report are: disgraced and disgraceful boss of Thailand’s failed National Human Rights Commission Amara Pongsapich, Pornchai Rujiprapa, the Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology who is one of the most vigorous users of the lese majeste law and a proponent of illegal internet surveillance, Vicha Mahakhun, former constitution drafter for the military junta in 2007 and a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission who not that long ago stated, “We all know elections are evil…”, adding that “[p]eople, especially academics who want to see the Constitution lead to genuine democracy, are naïve…”, and Surachai Liangboonlertchai, a dedicated anti-democrat who The Dictator made deputy chairman of the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

PPT an only imagine that this is an opportunity for these anti-democrats to slap each other on the back, work out future strategies for limiting democracy and ensure ideological oneness.

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.

Retrospective law

1 10 2014

Back in 2007, the then Constitutional Tribunal, established under the authority of the military junta in 2006, decided to dissolve the Thaksin Shinawatra Thai Rak Thai Party and several other political parties.

Part of the Tribunal’s decision was based not on existing law at the time of the alleged offenses, but on Announcements by the military junta. This raised serious questions regarding the retrospective use of law – in this case, announcements by a regime that was essentially illegal, coming to power by illegal means.

Globally, the use of retrospectivity is still relatively unusual. One author argues that “the definitive argument against retrospective rule-making is the expectation of individuals that, if their actions today are considered by a future court, the applicable law was discoverable at the time the action was performed.”

We are not legal eagles at PPT, yet we have to wonder if the current military junta is embarking on yet another use of retrospective law, this time setting up a process that seems aimed at Yingluck Shinawatra.

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) “has reaffirmed its authority to start the process of impeaching politicians even though the 2007 constitution was scrapped.” That reaffirmation might set an alarm off, even if the 1999 anti-corruption organic law remains in place.

Yet the NACC also decided that the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly “could proceed to impeach them under Section 6 of the 2014 interim charter…”.

The puppets seemed initially reluctant about proceeding on charges related to a scrapped charter so asked the NACC to “rewrite the papers so that the offence is based on the laws in effect today and links to the NLA’s mandate to impeach persons in office…”.

Manufacturing law to suit those in power at the point of a gun is not unusual in Thailand’s long and sorry history of military interventionism, yet the retrospective use of law is something other than rule of law.



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