Judiciary and corruption

26 10 2018

PPT has posted many times on the politicization of the judiciary. Most of these posts related to a period before the military dictatorship, when the judiciary was used by the royalist ruling class to harass elected governments and prevent them from governing.

This period of deep politicization lasted from April 2006 when the then king ordered judges to intervene until the 2014 military coup, and included a judicial coup in 2008. Since that coup, the judiciary has had a back seat doing the dominant junta’s bidding.

There’s been less attention to the corruption of the judiciary. A report in the Bangkok Post highlights this and the double standards that are so essential to the royalist ruling class.

The report highlights an instance where “[j]Judges have voted in favour of impeaching a member of the Judicial Commission, Bankruptcy Court chief judge Chamnan Rawiwanpong…”. It implies that this is the first time this has happened.

The report states that “Chamnan was accused of  abusing his authority as a judicial commissioner in the matter of an inheritance case handled by lower court judges at Chachoengsao Provincial Court. The case involved his wife’s family.”

A corrupt judge being sacked? No.

In fact, at this stage, the corrupt judge is removed from his “duties as a member of the Judicial Commission…”. But, “[t]he impeachment was separate from Mr Chamna’s duties at the Bankruptcy Court. He was still chief judge of the court…”.

In other words, a corrupt judge continues as a chief judge.





Contemptible justice system

10 05 2017

Readers will know that we have posted more than a few items that have shown and declared Thailand’s justice system an injustice system.

The police have long been corrupt thugs. But they are now worse than ever thanks to the fact that a military dictatorship condones impunity. They have to repay the military junta with loyalty. So when the biggest shot orders a piece of national history stolen as he wipes the “hard drive” of history, the cops do nothing, zilch. Loyalty demands no less.

The military is above the law. They literally get away with murder, with the latest case being that of Chaiyapoom Pasae. He was gunned down and now there’s nothing. It is all quiet. It’s probably just another cover up. We notice that the media has conveniently forgotten the case. Nothing happened, you can all go home. Witnesses intimidated, evidence withheld. Forget it.

The courts, positioned to have more power by a coterie of royalists, meddlers, constitution drafters and two juntas, is now a disgrace.

Lese majeste cases are just one example, where even the letter of the law is ignored as political opponents and others are shoved into jail for long sentences after secret trials, many in military courts. Cases are concocted, confessions forces and arrests made for political purposes.

Judges apply double standards as if they are the only standards and justice is not blind, but meted out with a view to vengeance and no consideration of the merits of cases. Of course, we are not necessarily pointing at every single case, but the politically significant ones. Thailand’s courts have become political courts.

Rather than detail the contemptible actions of the courts, we draw attention to an article by iLaw at Prachatai. It is certainly worth reading.





Monarchy, junta and judiciary entwined

17 03 2017

In a couple of recent posts, PPT has emphasized the lawless or rule-by-law nature of the military dictatorship. Under this regime, rule-by-law is essentially lawlessness as the junta can make everything it does legal, while using law to repress and oppress all of its opponents, be they red shirts, “politicians,” grannies, kids or activists.

Lese majeste has been one important law used against political opponents and the prince-cum-king’s personal acquaintances, minions and consorts who fall out of favor. The threat of lese majeste, interpreted in ways that are not even covered by the law, threatens and silences many.

The junta uses Article 44 dozens of times to make illegal actions legal or to ride roughshod over law and procedure. Having come to power illegally through a military coup, later made “legal,” the junta uses law when it suits it, but makes law up as it feels fit. In other words, it behaves lawlessly but makes that lawlessness “legal” through “special” decrees.

The judiciary is complicit in both the manipulation of lese majeste and the making legal the junta’s lawlessness. Since the late king’s infamous intervention in 2006, the judiciary has been more highly politicized, with movement to judicialization, marking itself out as a royalist court that “interprets” law for the political advantage of royalists and its class.

The most recent example of the judiciary’s view of itself as “above” the hoi polloi is its use of “contempt of court” allegations and charges against anyone daring to question or criticize a court or judges. This is a ploy used by various courts in recent years, always in political cases.

In Khon Kaen, the Provincial Court is going after student activists.

This court, doing the junta’s work, has repeatedly refused bail for Jatuphat (Pai) Boonpattaraksa, the sole person accused of lese majeste for sharing a BBC Thai nes story on the new king. More than 2,000 others did the same thing and are not targeted. Jatuphat is charged and jailed simply because he is an anti-junta activist.

The director of the Provincial Court’s Prosecutor’s Office has accused several supporters of Jatuphat with “contempt of court for participating in a peaceful gathering to demand for … [Pai]’s release.”

In a junta pattern, the charges are targeted on activists considered leaders. The junta wants to threaten all by targeting leaders. The junta wants to decapitate opposition groups. The judiciary supports the junta’s work.

The activists are:

Phayu Bunsophon, Chatmongkon Janchiewcharn and a female student activist (who does not want to reveal her identity), the three law students of Khon Kaen University who are members of Dao Din group, and Narongrit Upachan, a political science student from the same university who is a member of NGC.

The court will hold a hearing on the case on 24 April 2017, essentially considering its own evidence. Whatever the outcome, the court, complicit with the junta, is seeking to threaten and  silence.





Monarchy, judges and prosecutors

19 01 2017

Dead kings, live ones, the princeling judges of the courts of law and now prosecutors are protected from all kinds of “threats,” implied, imagined and real.

Thailand’s process of judicialization has gone a long way under various royalist regimes and their constitutions since 2006. Judges and prosecutors are untouchable.

To emphasize how far this process has gone, crippling any notion of rule of law, a report in the Bangkok Post will appear ludicrous to most readers.

It seems that the seemingly august  prosecutors in the case at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions hearing the political case against Yingluck Shinawatra are easily frightened.

On “Oct 7, 2016 around noon,” two court spectators were considered to be “staring at prosecutors in an intimidating manner.”no-justice

Intimidation through staring. There’s a cultural aspect to this but presumably prosecutors are used to dealing with criminals like rapists, murderers, drug dealers, torturers and even hi-so types with excellent connections. But staring bothers and frightens them. Perhaps they feel closer to the criminal types.

The persecuted prosecutors “filed a petition with the court on Nov 18, accusing the two spectators of contempt of court.” The courts swung into action to investigate the “starers” protect the “stare-ees” and a panel of three very senior judges gave their presumably valuable time to this nonsense important “case.”

The Post reports that on “Jan 17, a panel of three judges led by Wiroon Saengthian, deputy president of the Supreme Court, summoned the two for questioning.” The starers admitted they had stared and were fined 500 baht each.

Thailand’s farcical judicial system just got a lot more ridiculous as it seeks to protect the status quo of the ever more hierarchical society.





Junta’s political strategy II

2 06 2016

The Dictator has “clarified” his statements that he doesn’t desire power or want to hold it or that he intends to stay on or have the military stay on in power. As the Bangkok Post reports it, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “threatened his critics … that he would hold on to power … until peace has been fully returned to the country.”

We guess that suggests that the “loosening up” might have already gone too far for The Dictator.Prayuth gunning for democracy

Oddly, the erratic general was reportedly making these comments on the junta’s domestic political strategy to “a group of 134 developing countries known as G-77 at a forum in Bangkok.” He added that “he would use the 200,000 soldiers at his disposal to continue to lead the country.” The Dictator was clear still: “Without soldiers, Thailand can go nowhere. Nowadays, we are using soldiers to steer the country. Our troops aren’t meant to fight anybody or to persecute politicians…”.

In one sense, we agree with Prayuth. The military is not a conventional armed forces. It is a political agency that has for decades repressed and murdered the citizens of the country.

While the Post worries that the “general’s latest outburst flies in the face of repeated pledges to restore democracy through elections next year,” it should look more closely at the political rules the junta has set that will bound and corral any elected civilian regime to such an extent that the elite’s and military’s representatives in (non)independent agencies and the royalist judiciary will be what one academic calls the Deep State.

Prayuth’s rant continued as he said that “there are still some politicians expressing their opinions.” That’s a pretty clear statement of what Prayuth and the regime think of “politicians” and he is clear on what their subordinate, dominated and unrepresentative position must be. On his own extraordinary powers as The Dictator, Prayuth “explained” that “[m]artial law and Section 44 are crucial for Thailand keeping peace and moving towards the elections…”.

That all seems pretty clear, but the erratic Prayuth then played dumb, claiming he has no “thirst for power.”

Finally Prayuth defended non-democratic politics:”Western democracies” should not urge elections or people’s sovereignty. The Dictator said a one-size political “shirt” does not fit everyone. He declared: Dictators of the world unite, trumpeting, “We countries in the G-77 should have the liberty to select which shirt we want to choose to fit our people.”

That’s exactly what he’s doing in Thailand. The Dictator is defining the people’s political shirt. It is small, narrow and uncomfortable.

All hail The Dictator.





2014 and the (further) rise of authoritarianism

6 03 2016

A reader points out that PPT has neglected a couple of academic articles at the Journal of Contemporary Asia. We have now looked at the papers, apparently the first to come out in a special issue of the journal. The issue is to be titled: “Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand’s Authoritarian Turn,” edited by Veerayooth Kanchoochat and Kevin Hewison. Both articles at the publisher’s website are of great interest.

The first is available for free download. Eugénie Mérieau contributes “Thailand’s Deep State, Royal Power and the Constitutional Court (1997–2015),” which the JCA blog says “is an important article assessing the way in which a conservative elite has ruled Thailand and how it seeks to manage succession.”

The abstract for the article is as follows:

This article challenges the network monarchy approach and advocates for the use of the concept of Deep State. The Deep State also has the monarchy as its keystone, but is far more institutionalised than the network monarchy accounts for. The institutionalised character of the anti-democratic alliance is best demonstrated by the recent use of courts to hamper the rise of electoral politics in a process called judicialisation of politics. This article uses exclusive material from the minutes of the 1997 and 2007 constitution-drafting assemblies to substantiate the claim that the Deep State used royalists’ attempts to make the Constitutional Court a surrogate king for purposes of its own self-interested hegemonic preservation.

The second paper is by Chris Baker, titled “The 2014 Thai Coup and Some Roots of Authoritarianism.” Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. His abstract states:

Thailand is the only country currently ruled by a coup-installed military government. The 2014 coup aimed not only to abolish the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra but also to shift Thailand’s politics in an authoritarian direction. While the army authored the coup, the professional and official elite played a prominent role in engineering the coup and shaping political reforms. This article examines some historical antecedents of this authoritarian turn, first in the broad trends of Thailand’s modern political history, and second in the emergence and political evolution of the Bangkok middle class.





Updated: Judicial bias favors lese majeste madness

26 12 2014

PPT’s readers should never be surprised by the political bias and gross double standards of the judiciary. At present, its the task assigned to it by the military dictatorship is to clean up a bunch of legal cases that hang over various royalists and to ensure that the political bias of the military dictatorship is institutionalized.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “criminal court has dismissed a libel case in which former foreign affairs minister Kasit Piromya was accused of slandering ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

KangarooCourtKasit’s work with the People’s Alliance for Democracy was highly valued by the royalist elite that anti-democratic in 2008, and he was rewarded with the Foreign Ministry in the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva government in late 2008.

Kasit spoke on the PAD stage several times, and on one occasion, in November 2008, Kasit “said Thaksin was trying every way to seize the country and make it his personal asset.” He also claimed that “Thaksin had issued orders to kill Thai Muslims in the South and for extra judicial killings of drug suspects and that Thaksin wanted to become the president and topple the monarchy.”

The claims were published in several media and “Thaksin filed a suit against … Kasit as the first defendant and Thaiday.com Co Ltd and ASTV (Thailand) Co Ltd as the second and third defendants respectively for publishing the speech.”

Kasit’s first claim is political rhetoric. The second, on the South, is certainly disputed, and no evidence of an order to kill has been produced. The third – on the war on drugs – carries some weight but no anti-Thaksin government has brought a case against him or anyone else involved, and we can only wonder if this is because the king and privy councilors also promoted the war on drugs and were satisfied by the murders.

The fourth claim is serious in that it amounts to lese majeste and, at the time, an unconstitutional plot. Nonsense though they are, lese majeste is a convenient political tool for royalist cowards like Kasit.

What is most interesting in the court dismissing the case, is the reasons for the decision. A first point made is that “since Thaksin was a public figure, he could be criticised.” That might well be true, but seems not to apply to the lese majeste accusation. On this, the court actually made a judgement: “Kasit intended to protect the country’s interests and an important institution. The court was therefore convinced he was expressing his opinions honestly.”

That is an invitation for every lese majeste imbecile in the royalist camp to attack all its political opponents with similar claims. The avalanche of lese majeste accusations and cases is set to increase still further.

While on this topic, we note a new paper by Duncan McCargo at Leeds University. Published by Contemporary Southeast Asia and titled “Competing Notions of Judicialization in Thailand,” the abstract states:

From Ji Ungpakorn's blog

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

This article examines the politics of judicialization in Thailand between 2006 and 2014, looking at the ways in which the judiciary became regularly embroiled in politics during this extremely contentious period. It takes as its starting point important royal speeches of 2006, and the interpretation of those speeches offered by the prominent academic and social critic Thirayudh Boonmee. Several key judicial decisions which had lasting political consequences are closely examined, including the 2006 election annulment, the 2007 banning of Thai Rak Thai, the removal of pro-Thaksin Shinawatra prime ministers Samak Sundaravej and Yingluck Shinawatra in 2008 and 2014, Thaksin’s conviction on corruption-related charges in 2008 and the judicial seizure of his assets in 2010. Some of the questions posed in this paper are as follows: Does judicialization inevitably mean conservative attempts to curtail the power of politicians and undermine electoral politics? Are judges working on behalf of Thai society, or in alignment with certain vested interests? Could greater judicial activism serve progressive social and political causes in the Thai context? The paper argues that Thailand’s “judicialization” is a complex phenomenon: judgements made by different courts, in different cases and at different times need to be scrutinized on their individual merits.

We can’t read the paper as it is behind a pay wall, so can’t assess the claims in full, but our view is that arguing that “judgements made by different courts, in different cases and at different times need to be scrutinized on their individual merits,” is like looking at individual trees and not seeing the forest. Academics do like to be careful but even the bark of trees can hide disease. In the case of the judiciary in Thailand, judicialization may not be the issue when the most significant courts are deeply politicized.

Update: A reader suggests to us that we should also note that a defamation action brought by the detestable Abhisit against Jatuporn Promphan has also been rejected. Jatuporn had accused Abhisit of being a “tyrant” whose “hands are tainted with blood.” The reader says this proves. McCargo’s point. Quite the contrary, this case is relatively unimportant. Abhisit has had several cases against Jatuporn. And, since 2009, Jatuporn has been jailed several times and has been found guilty in other courts, thrown out of parliament and has been repeatedly attacked by royalists. The failure of one of Abhisit’s cases has no impact on the weight of decisions by the politicized judiciary.