Updated: Fake case dismissed

21 01 2020

The Bangkok Post reports:

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that key figures of the opposition Future Forward Party (FFP) were not guilty of opposing the monarchy.

Televised images showed the verdict triggered celebrations at the party headquarters in the capital.

The court found regulations, press interviews and speeches made by senior FFP figures were not deemed to undermine the monarchy as claimed. It ruled to reject the petition.

“The accused have not acted in their rights and liberties to overthrow the constitutional monarchy,” said Taweekiat Meenakanit, one of the judges.

The Nation adds:

In its verdict, the judges said the evidence presented were not strong enough to warrant the party’s dissolution.

The majority of evidence presented to the court came from unreliable sources such as articles and messages on online media platforms while there was no evident action from the accused showing its intention to undermine the monarchy.

Even the politicized Constitutional Court was unlikely to convict FFP and dissolve the party based on this fake case. That it even accepted the case is a measure of the fear that the ruling class has of FFP making democratic politics relevant for the population. As a Bangkok Post editorial pointed out: “Despite many cautions that the Illuminati charge is bizarre, given the fact that the secret society’s existence has never been proven, the court accepted the petition for consideration…”.

So bizarre has this process been, that even the conservative Bangkok Post pleaded for a fair trial and a transparent verdict.

Nathaporn (clipped from The Nation)

In July 2019 crazed royalist Nathaporn Toprayoon, a former adviser to the Ombudsman, lodged a complaint, claiming that FFP was anti-monarchy because it was a part of the Illuminati. Part of the “evidence” for this bonkers claim was that Future Forward’s logo was triangular, which was a bit like an Illuminati sign, albeit rotated 180 degrees. Mad Nathaporn claimed the “secret Illuminati sect [was] ‘believed to be behind the unseating of monarchies in Europe’.”

Other concocted “evidence” was that the party’s did “not use the standard phrase ‘democracy with the king as head of state’, but instead uses the words democracy according to the constitution’,” and that it was “party policy [to ]… have Thailand ratify the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, a body that does not grant immunity to the head of state, which is against the Thai constitution.”

Nathaporn also cobbled together articles written by party leaders over many years. He used these to claim they were anti-monarchists.

As we said a couple of days ago, we didn’t think that this “case” will be the end of FFP – even the hopelessly biased Constitutional Court and its mentors could not be this ridiculous, maybe, perhaps. As we pointed out: Betting seems to be that the Court will dissolve FFP in another case, where the Court will miraculously define a loan as a donation to a political party. In the end, the plan is to do away with Thailand’s third most popular party.

Update: Khaosod has an interview with mad monarchist Nathaporn just prior to the Court’s decision. Indicating his odd way of “thinking,” the lawyer claimed “he had no bias toward the accused.”

He claims that in attacking the FFP as anti-monarchy – a major crime in Thailand on a par with murder and sedition – the rabid royalist claims “he was merely following his duty to protect the monarchy from the Future Forward Party…”.

Nathaporn goes on to explain that “he only filed complaints against the Future Forward Party because it’s the only party in the Parliament who has a track record of campaigning against the monarchy.”

Yes siree! No bias against FFP at all!

Like other ultra-royalists, nutty Nathaporn cries out: “I love the monarchy like I love my parents…. If anyone hurt them, I must protect them.” Indeed.





Further updated: “The Threat”

19 01 2020

Like some mid-20th Century Hollywood B-grade movie, The Threat emerges from the (authoritarian) political sludge to try to undermine and crush Thailand’s monarch and the monarchy. Yes, even when almost all the supporting actors are military and the regime is military-dominated and military-backed, The Threat is always there, eating away at authoritarian monarchism.

The Threat is most usually from those who oppose the military and its never-ending efforts to control politics. Under the current regime, where the military is in the hands of ultra-royalists and, in fact, where the king has a firmer hand on the military than at any time since 1932, “threats” are most often associated with Thaksin Shinawatra because of his electoral popularity in the first two decades of this century.

Royalist rightist Rientong

Anyone who attended the recent rally for the regime at Lumpini Park would have noticed the placards linking the Future Forward Party and its leaders to Thaksin. Also noticeable was the claim that FFP represented a threat to the monarchy and, ipso facto, the nation. These demonstrators for the regime and those who organized them consider FFP’s popularity and the urge for democratization to be a threat to the monarchy. We have no doubt that, scared witless by the red shirt rising of a few years ago and associated anti-monarchism, the palace and the royalists in government worry endlessly about how to turn the tide, especially among the younger generation.

Opposing The Threat involves not just all kinds of electoral cheating, constitution rigging and shoveling increased power to the king, but bellicose ultra-rightist thugs and expensive, taxpayer-funded displays of military power and loyalty to the king and throne.

On the rightists, the Bangkok Post has an unusual electronic headline (right) that seems to indicate that the recently unleashed royalist attack dog Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah was thinking he might be king. It turns out he was just thinking of following the regime and its opponents and organizing a run/walk not for the regime per se, but “a run to ‘save the king’…”. Yes, so great is The Threat from FFP, a party in opposition, that the barking Major General feels the need to “save the king.” He’s been told to reign that idea in for a while. But watch his space. Once unleashed rightist royalists become murderous thugs.

All of this agitation plays into the bizarrely concocted Illuminati “case” against FFP at the regime’s Constitutional Court. Somehow we don’t think that this “case” will be the end of FFP – even the hopelessly biased Constitutional Court and its mentors could not be this ridiculous, maybe, perhaps. Betting seems to be that the Court will dissolve FFP in another case, where the Court will miraculously define a loan as a donation to a political party. In the end, the plan is to do away with Thailand’s third most popular party.

For the displays, even in his so far short reign, King Vajiralongkorn has had plenty, and he’s not even in the country all that much. He’s also had the Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong doing his bidding and a bit of his own in also barking about The Threat. He’s sees FFP as a bunch of Commie rats.

Clipped from Khaosod

An AP report on the most recent (waste of taxpayer money) display of defending the king from The Threat came when the king, queen and the most senior of his children (from wife #1) Princess Bajrakitiyabha “presided over an oath-taking ceremony Saturday at an army base where almost 7,000 soldiers and police paraded to mark Armed Forces Day.”

The report notes that “Vajiralongkorn’s presence at the ceremony was unusual, as Thai monarchs have rarely, if ever, attended the occasion, even though the royal palace and the military are closely linked.” The regime – and presumably the palace – linked the parade to the king’s coronation last May.

As ever, the military brass groveled and frog-marched to show their willingness to face The Threat, declaring: “I pledge my life to honor and sustain the greatness of the king. I pledge my loyalty to Your Majesty and will serve and guard Your Majesty till the end of my life…”.

The monarchy, military and regime are making clear their intention to destroy upstarts who comprise the contemporary “threat.” The broader ruling class – which should be worried about this concentration of power – is probably willing to go along with it so long as the regime that maintains the ruling class’s wealth is maintained.

Update 1: Leaked documents appearing at Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook page suggest that the taxpayer has been hit with a bill of at least 340 million baht for the Army’s display for defending the king.

Update 2: For an example of how “The Threat” causes great fear among regime supporters, try former Bangkok Post Editor Veera Prateepchaikul’s most recent op-ed. Veera’s a hack, but writes op-ed’s essentially for the broad yellow group that supports the military-backed regime. He’s been running a campaign against FFP since they did so well in last year’s election, and he’s obviously very frightened that, should FFP do well and not be dissolved, electoral democracy might make a comeback. Veera and his ilk fear that.





Updated: Constitutional Court’s “logic”

22 09 2019

Wasant Techawongtham is a former news editor of the Bangkok Post. He writes:

I’m no legal expert, so I may not fully comprehend the legalese language of many court rulings, some of which just go right over my head, not because of the language itself but the logic within them.

While the Court has threatened those who question its decisions, Wasant states:

The two latest rulings by the Constitutional Court have just left me scratching my head with bewilderment and frustration. In this, I’m not alone. Many legal experts have had to scamper to their law textbooks to make sure they have not missed some important principles.

He writes of the Court’s 11 September determination that “it has no authority to rule on the question of whether Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has violated the constitution” on his unconstitutional oath.

Despite a clear and precise statement of the content of the oath in the Constitution, the Court said that the oath was a matter between the king and executive.

Wasant points out the constitutional fallacy of this “decision”:

As I understand it, we have three pillars of democracy — the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. Each provides checks and balances against the others, and each has the duty to respect and protect the country’s constitution.

The fact that Gen Prayut failed to utter a complete oath is no longer in dispute. Such an act is a violation of Section 161 of the constitution which requires that a minister “must” make a solemn declaration as specifically stated before the King.

As everyone in neo-feudal Thailand must, Wasant protects his posterior by trying to “explain” that the king could not possibly have been involved in Gen Prayuth’s unconstitutional oath: “The King cannot be held responsible or complicit in this act.”

He concludes: “I can see no reason why the Constitutional Court could not rule on the matter.” Anyone who is fair and reasonable can only comprehend this ruling as yet another politicized decision by the Court.

Wasant then turns to the other recent ruling by the Constitutional Court on Gen Prayuth’s status as a state official and thus ineligible for the prime ministership. He describes the Court’s rejection of this petition as a “victory for the beleaguered general-turned-politician.” He adds: “it is also one of the most fuzzy and confusing rulings that is extremely difficult for laymen to understand.”

He quotes Political scientist Prajak Kongkirati who asked the right questions:

… [Gen Prayut] uses state power but he is not accountable to the state? He was not appointed by any law but issued and enforced laws concerning all public and private entities as well as the people? He was not legally a state official but received a salary from the public purse? He held on to power temporarily but stayed on for more than five years, longer than any elected government in Thai political history?

Wasant adds a question: “[Gen Prayuth] … wore official [state] uniforms to attend official [state] functions but was not a … [state] official?”

He concludes that:

Bolstered by the two court decisions, Gen Prayut must have felt he could do no wrong. On the day of the House debate, he walked away from the meeting without answering the central question: How would he take responsibility for the constitutional blunder he created after he had said publicly he would solely bear the responsibility?

Thailand is left with Gen Prayuth as The Dictator and prime minister following a coup, political repression, unbridled power as head of a junta, a rigged election and and rules thanks to politicized court decisions.

For several years the Constitutional Court has delivered politicized decisions based on clear double standards. Its attention now turns to the Future Forward Party. We would be hugely surprised if the Court doesn’t consign the party’s leader and the party itself to its dustbin of dissolved political parties. Of course, these dissolved parties are all pro-Thaksin Shinawatra or anti-junta.

Update: While mentioning op-eds at the Bangkok Post, Veera Prateepchaikul is unhappy with “the prime minister [who] did not himself clarify why he omitted to recite an important part of the oath as stipulated in the constitution…”. He handed over to deep swamp slime mining creature Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to concoct something that sounded legal. As Veera sees it – and most everyone else –

In his clarification … Wissanu was as slippery as an eel as he beat about the bush before referring to the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the swearing-in ceremony was an affair between the government and … the King. In short, he offered no clarification as to whether the omission of the final part of the oath by the prime minister was intentional or unintentional.

And, of course, said nothing about who might have ordered Gen Prayuth to omit reference to the constitution. Veera says Gen Prayuth’s “attitude can only be seen as a lack of acceptance of the opposition’s role as a check-and-balance mechanism of the executive branch, if not his contempt for it.” While that contempt is well-known, the whole story of the unconstitutional oath is also suggestive of the king’s contempt for parliament and the constitution.

Sadly, Veera then gets into some obscurantist royalism:

It is a straightforward and non-complicated issue that could be fixed with an honest explanation, which any good leader should offer. It is not a sensitive issue as claimed by Mr Wissanu because it is separate from the swearing-in ceremony.

Clearly, it isn’t. If this unconstitutional oath was an error, then it would have been easily fixed. Because it hasn’t been fixed and because those involved won’t say anything, the finger is pointing at the king.





Royal teflon

19 09 2019

The Chakkri dynasty’s tenth reign is currently the most obviously interventionist since 1932. This is not just seen in King Vajiralongkorn’s interventions on the constitution and election, but in the manner in which the military-backed, post-junta regime is, for the moment, being given a political polytetrafluoroethylene coat that is, in PPT’s view, unconstitutional.

One of the reasons that the regime is teflon coated is that the “independent agencies” have been anything but independent. Most egregiously, the Constitutional Court has made itself a power that ferociously defends the interests of the royalist ruling class. Remarkably, it now ignores the constitution when this suits those ruling interests. At least two recent decisions are sad examples of royal and royalist injustice that confounds law and constitution: the decision on Ubolratana’s foiled candidature in the March election and the recent decision to ignore the junta’s own constitutional requirements and effectively place the king above the constitution.

In the past couple of days there’s been more judicial decisions that undermine law and that raise the monarchy out of its constitutional status.

Buffalo manure

First, the Criminal Court ruled that the ultra-royalist prince Chulcherm Yugala, who declared the Future Forward Party dangerous republicans “seeking to overthrow the monarchy,” had not libeled that party.

In royalist Thailand, it now seems that royals can do and say anything they want. Remarkably, the Court ruled his outlandish fabrications were “positive criticism” and “intended to warn the plaintiff against royal defamation.” Buffalo manure, but that’s what the courts deal in.

Second, the Constitutional Court has ruled that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, a serving general when he led the 2014 coup, then self-appointed prime minister for more than 5 years, “was not a state official when he ruled as head of the junta…”.

How did the Constitutional Court conjure this stunning piece of nonsensical “logic”? It made up a story that “Gen Prayut was not a state official when he was the National Council of Peace and Order chairman as it was an interim position which was not under any state agencies.” Continuing a long “tradition” of upholding the “legality” of the military coup, it ruled that the “NCPO chairman was a product of the administrative power seizure…”.

Third, it seems the king helped out with the incomplete and unconstitutional oath debate in parliament by yesterday. After all of the scheduling and disputes about the debate, suddenly it was announced that the “debate” had to finish several hours earlier to let every single minister in the country could “attend a ceremony for the late King at Dusit Palace.”

Yet this royal sleight of political hand was little more than just another anointing of the regime by the king as Gen Prayuth refused to say much at all about the unconstitutional oath. For The Dictator, parliament is now little more than an annoying itch to be scratch every now and again.

Thailand now has a political system where the king gets anything he wants and is above the constitution, where the law is a mish-mash of double standards the support the royalist ruling class, parliament is an annoyance and where the constitution is ignored. Nothing will stick for the royalist ruling class.

Of course, if one is on the wrong side of the regime, the law, constitution and courts are used to repress.





Updated: Constitutional Court ignores constitution II

12 09 2019

The Constitutional Court’s most recent decision places the king above the constitution. This is yet another move that moves the the monarchy away from its status as constitutional; with the monarchy now deemed to be above the constitution, it is, by definition and in law, no longer a constitutional monarchy. In Wikipedia’s basic definition:

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy (in which a monarch holds absolute power) in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework.

The Constitutional Court affirms that the king is not constrained by the constitution – even when he demanded and received changes to that constitution under the military junta – when it determined that: “… it lacked jurisdiction because the oath was a matter between the executive branch and the king.”

Of course, it isn’t. The constitution is clear that ministers must make a particular oath, with the words set out in the constitution. This is not a matter between the executive and king except if, like the Court, the monarch is considered above the constitution and not under it.

That King Vajiralongkorn and his palace determined the unconstitutional oath is confirmed by earlier reports. For example, the Bangkok Post recently reported that the military-backed government had warned politicians not to discuss the monarchy’s role. It determined that:

MPs will not be protected by customary parliamentary immunity during the general debate on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s incomplete oath recital, chief government whip Wirach Ratanasate said yesterday.

Since all parties concerned want the session to be held openly [sic.] instead of behind closed doors, lawmakers should be warned they are not immune to being sued over remarks deemed to offend the monarchy, he said.

You get the picture. The king is not to be mentioned, even if he is the culprit in encouraging anti-constitutional actions.

Update: StrategyPage is not a site we know well. However, it has a story on the monarchy that has some interesting claims. It begins:

The animosity between monarchists and democrats is growing more intense. The new king, the former unpopular playboy crown prince, is turning into an unpopular king who is seeking more control over the military and more money for his increasingly (compared to his popular father) lavish lifestyle.

It goes on to claim (under an interesting heading):

Bad Royals

The military and the new king are making it more likely that the democratic opposition will eventually call for the elimination of the monarchy. This was not really possible until the current king took power and made it clear he was different. Unlike his predecessor, the new king already had an unsavory reputation as a playboy crown prince. To make matters worse the new king made a deal with the military government that would, in theory, benefit both of them in the long run. First, the former crown prince assured everyone that he would behave, after a fashion. In return, the military government freed the monarchy from constitutional and parliamentary restrictions that were part of the 1930s deal that turned the absolute monarchy into a constitutional one.





Updated: Constitutional Court ignores constitution I

11 09 2019

As far as we can tell from breaking news, in among a bunch of technicalities, the Constitutional Court has behaved exactly as expected and said that there’s no constitutional problem with the prime minister and his ministers not swearing an oath as set out in the constitution.

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

We could surmise that, like more or less everyone else, the Court is spineless when faced with the king’s neo-feudal moves. But, then, the Court has been hopelessly politicized for years and has repeatedly made decisions that favor Thailand’s ruling class and the monarchy-military alliance.

The irony on this decisions – if we have it right – is that the Constitutional Court has ignored the constitution. Just as a heroin smuggler can be a minister, the constitution no longer matters. As we have long observed, Thailand ruling regime is essentially lawless. When you have a king who can do what he wants, who needs laws?

Update: The Bangkok Post reports on the Court’s decision:

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday threw out a complaint about the failure of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet ministers to recite the complete oath of office.

The court voted unanimously that it had no authority to consider issues between the administrative branch and the monarchy.

In essence, while so much of the constitution refers to the monarchy, the Constitutional Court now claims to have no authority. Remarkable.

Remarkably feudal.

But what perfect timing! This decision takes the wind out of the opposition’s sails. We guess that is what it was meant to do.





Courts brook no criticism

30 08 2019

In recent years, the Constitutional Court has been highly politicized. It has made all kinds of decisions that are barely recognizable as legal in any fair or impartial sense. Despite decisions that have been brazenly biased, the court is keen to police any effort to call it out.

This is why the court has blown a gasket over recent commentaries that have annoyed.

A recent Prachatai report commented on a social media storm that had erupted over the judicial harassment of Associate Professor Kovit Wongsurawat, a political scientist at Kasetsart University. He had “received a letter from the Office of the Constitutional Court summoning him to meet the Secretary-General of the Office over an ‘inappropriate’ tweet.”

Yes, a tweet! That tiny comment was posted on 26 June 2019 when Kovit “said that the Constitutional Court is ‘beyond shameless’ for accepting a petition about 32 MPs who hold shares in media companies, but not suspending them.”

Obviously, Kovit was comparing this favorable treatment of the military-backed government’s MPs when compared with opposition MPs and candidates.

But it got worse. The Bangkok Post reports that Sarinee Achavanuntakul, an independent academic and columnist, “has been served with a summons for contempt of court…”. This time a “civil case involving contempt of court by publication was filed by Supradit Jeensawake, secretary of the Supreme Court’s Election Cases Division.”

Sarinee’s case “refers to the Prachachon 2.0 (People 2.0) column titled Perils of Excessive Rule by Law (revisited), Case of Media Shareholding by MP Candidates … published in Krungthep Turakit newspaper on May 14, 2019.”

A copy of a memorandum by Mr Supradit to Jinda Pantachote, chief of the division, who approved the proceedings, was also attached.

In the article “Sarinee cited as an example of the dangers of excessive use of rule by law a case in Sakon Nakhon in which the court banned a FFP MP candidate from running in March.” She made the obvious point that the court was dim in its “interpretation” of “media business” and pointed how how this “interpretation” could lead to ridiculous uses of the law.

She is now accused of contempt of court.

The courts offer little “blind justice.” Rather, they offer undeniable support for the ruling class. Protecting lopsided justice means the courts are also policing their critics.