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.





Judicial politicization

26 07 2019

Thailand’s courts have long been pretty hopeless. In this century they have become highly politicized, with judges doing their “duty” as royalists.

In yet another example of this politicization of the judiciary, The Nation reports that in a trial that began in 2015, the Criminal Court has “acquitted four key members of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee on insurrection charges.” It might be defunct, but as the cheerleaders for the 2014 military coup and for the current military-backed regime, it gets credit and protection from the royalist establishment.

The court acquitted found Sonthiyan Chuenruethainaitham, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong and the bewigged Seri Wongmontha of a huge list of charges “related to the Bangkok Shutdown protests against the Yingluck [Shinawatra] government from May 23 2013 to May 1 2014.” They were:

charged by public prosecutors with insurrection, inciting public disturbances, unlawful gathering, gathering in a group of more than 10 persons to use arms to cause disturbances and to harm others, inciting the public to stop working to pressure the government, and unlawful entries of government offices and others’ properties….

The four defendants were charged with violating Articles 113, 116, 117, 209, 210, 215, 362, 364, and 365 of the Criminal Code and with obstructing the holding of an election by the Election Commission and thus violating Articles 76, 152, and 8 of the 2007 election act. The public prosecutors filed charges against the four in the court in 2014.

With the boss (clipped from Bangkok Post)

Of course, these four were all heavily and publicly involved in the actions that led to the charges. Readers will know that hundreds of red shirts have been convicted and jailed of similar charges. The double standards are obvious and perennial.

The court’s “reasoning” for the acquittals on the spurious “grounds that while they joined the PDRC-led protests against the Yingluck government, they were not leaders who gave orders to the protesters.” All of them were close to the anti-democrat leadership and appeared on the PDRC stages, urging protesters to engage in illegal action. They denied this and the court agreed.

In addition:

The court also cited a ruling by the Constitutional Court on case number of 59/2556 to acquit the four. The Constitutional Court ruled that the PDRC demonstrators had constitutional rights based on Article 63 of the then charter to demonstrate out of dissatisfaction with the Yingluck administration enacting an amnesty law to try to whitewash former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

As far as we are aware, no such decision has been applied to red shirts.

Suthep Thaugsuban and other anti-democrats were in the court to cheer the decision.

The Bangkok Post reports that 28 other anti-democrats face similar charges.

Meanwhile, as reported at The Nation, the politicized Constitutional Court seems to be preparing for its decisions that will likely go against the Future Forward Party and its leaders.

 

It has “warned that critics of its rulings could face prosecution for contempt of court if they unfairly attack its judgments or use expletives in public comments.”

The court warned that under junta-enacted law, “criticism of the court should be done in an honest manner, with no use of expletives or sarcastic or vengeful language. This provision also refers to comments made on the Internet or in social media…”.

The court has stated that it “will enforce this law as much as it is necessary in order to ensure justice in an efficient and fair manner…”. In other words, it is prepared to jail those who disagree with the court;s politicized verdicts.





Updated: Trading justice

26 06 2019

Thailand’s judicial system has been in terrible trouble since at least 2006, when the previous king pushed judges to the center of political conflict. Since then, several courts have been delivering politicized decisions, not least the Constitutional Court.

One of the most blatant cases of this political use of the judicial system seems to be the recent decision by the Office of the Attorney-General that red shirt turncoat and political opportunist Suporn  Atthawong, once known as Rambo Isan, “could not be brought to hear an indictment at the Pattaya court…”. According to the Office of the Attorney-General, the statute of limitations had expired.

The charges went back to the invasion of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya in 2009.

Startlingly, this statute of limitations did not apply to his co-accused red shirts. One of them, Nattawut Saikua, is cited in the report:

Nuttawut, a co-defendant in the Pattaya case, wrote on Facebook he was impressed by the “miracle of law” which let only Mr Suporn walk free.

“I don’t have any problem if he is let off the hook because we red shirts have faced many more charges than others. But the statute of limitations expired? This is hard to swallow.

“I’m only saddened by the miracle of law and the judicial process,” he wrote.

There were rumours that making lawsuits disappear was used as a tool to lure former MPs to join a new party. “I wonder if there is a shred of truth in this case, “ he continued.

In that last comment, Nattawut is referring to the offers that were allegedly made to former Thaksin Shinawatra supporters to defect to the junta’s proxy party, to assist in mobilizing voters and to work against former allies. It was claimed that not just money changed hands in such dealing, but legal favors as well. Justice is a commodity for trade for the junta.

Update: Khaosod reports that “[p]olice commanders … declined to explain why they failed to arrest a pro-junta politician before insurrection charges against him expired.”

Chonburi police commander Nanthachart Supamongkol, whose was tasked with apprehending Suporn, used a royal excuse!: “Nanthachart said he was busy attending an event to honor King Rama X,” and told reporters to ask someone else. We are sure General Prawit knows the answer. Deals were done.





Destroying Future Forward

11 06 2019

Over the past decade or so Thailand’s ruling class have repeatedly rejected the will of the people. It has achieved this its armed wing in the military that has seized power twice, slaughtered protesters and assaulted and repressed. It has also used the judiciary to enforce its will, several times dissolving popular parties.

It is doing it again. The Future Forward Party, which did surprisingly well in the junta’s 2019 election, is being punished and it will be destroyed.

So far, the regime – still the junta – has moved, through the puppet election Commission and the Constitutional Court, to charge the party’s leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit with several alleged offenses and has succeeded in having him kept out of parliament. It has also brought charges against the party’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul.

In another report of the determination to eliminate Future Forward, we learn that the slavish lapdogs at the EC have “accepted a petition against the Future Forward Party (FFP) over claims by some of its MPs that they were offered money to vote for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister…”. No complaint against Palang Pracharath has been seriously investigated because the EC and that party both belong to the junta.

Another tactic used by the ruling class has been to use its parliamentary wing to destabilize elected governments. This was seen when its former attack party, the so-called Democrat Party, deliberately damaged parliament and went to the streets with the ruling class’s anti-democratic street gangs.

The new, preferred ruling class party is the junta’s Palang Pracharath. Already, we see that it has descended into the maniacal monarchical slime to attack Future Forward’s spokesperson Pannika Wanich.

Everyone in Thailand knows that this is a witch hunt and that Future Forward is being targeted and will be destroyed. Yet it seems nothing can be done. The junta’s control remains strong. More importantly, the ruling class, its junta and its minority of anti-democrats have learned that overturning the people’s votes is rather simple. And, if it gets out of hand as it did in 2009 and 2010, well, the opponents can be killed and jailed.





Fake charges

24 05 2019

As we have previously posted, the military junta, in its efforts to frame Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has suddenly had to concoct cases against 15 activists for events four years ago.

We can only wonder about all the time that elapsed and no charges over each of those four years. Of course, its the opportunity to kick Thanathorn that the junta now manufactures charges against the activists. A bigger pile of buffalo manure is hard to imagine.

How high can the junta pile it?

The Bangkok Post reports that recently released Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and 12 other activists have all “denied newly-filed charges against them over a rally outside Pathumwan police station four years ago.”

Four years ago!

It seems somehow fitting that this, the latest of the military junta’s manipulation of law came fiver years to the day after the military coup – itself illegal – that brought these fascist buffoons to power.

And, it was great to see “[s]upporters waiting outside [who] cheered the activists as they reported to Pathumwan police on Wednesday, some carrying pieces of paper criticising the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for holding on to power for five years.”

Police have “pressed charges of sedition and engaging in gatherings of 10 or more people under the Criminal Code against them.” Sedition! For fuck’s sake, this was four years ago. Does sedition mean so little now that the junta can casually wait years and years to use the charge for base political purpose?

PPT has never used a profanity in a post in nearly a decade, but this is the most base, concocted and ridiculous piece of junta buffalo manure we have seen in five years.

Fortunately, the activists were released and will fight the case, but the case is a farcical political use of the law and judiciary.





Ruling class and the unruly

28 04 2019

It is always enlightening – or should we say, confirmatory – when members of the ruling class speak for the regime.

Recently, Thai PBS reported on comments by Supreme Court President Cheep Chulamont where he pondered how to make Thais obey his ruling class and their regime.

He whined that the “problems” facing the country – he means the ruling class – “stem from the Thai people themselves” because, he says, they “do not accept one another and do not accept the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, which has set the roles and responsibilities of all organizations…”. Cheep moans: “How can the Thai people live in peace if they do not accept the rules?”

Let’s translate. The constitution was foisted upon the country by an illegal military coup. It was crafted by junta lackeys to promote the interests of the junta and the ruling class. It was “passed” by a “referendum” where people were prevented from campaigning against it, with not a few being jailed by both the military and civil judiciary, enforcing junta decrees.

His claim that the “court has no vested interests” is, we think, disingenuous. Cheep knows full well that his courts represent the ruling class and apply double standards.

One of the main reasons for this is that the judiciary has been brought under the control of the monarchy, at least over the course of the last long reign.

Like so many before him, Cheep bleats that the hoi polloi should stop being unruly and obey the ruling class. Blind obedience will allow some scraps to fall to them from the ruling class’s glutenous feast.





Race to coalition

26 03 2019

While the “election” results are still the subject of complaint, both Puea Thai and Palang Pracharath are racing, neck-and-neck, to announce a coalition. Remember that this is in a context where the final result has yet to be confirmed.

The Bangkok Post reports that “[a]t least six pro-democracy parties led by Pheu Thai will hold a briefing on their intention to form the government even without Bhumjaithai or the Democrats on Wednesday morning.”

It is reported that Puea Thai (unofficially 137 seats) will come together with Future Forward (87), Seri Ruamthai (11), Prachachat (6), New Economics (6) and Puea Chat (5). Together, that’s 252 seats, enough to form the government, which is formed in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the junta’s Palang Pracharath is reported to be putting a coalition together to take government. To do this means that it must congeal with the Democrat Party, Bhum Jai Thai and one of the parties listed as possible Puea Thai coalition members.

Puea Thai promises an announcement at 10 am Bangkok time.

This is not what the junta expected. Perhaps it should have, given that its design on the electoral system intended coalition governments.

If Puea Thai announces a coalition that allows it to form government, the junta has several choices: (i) accept that but try to control through the constitution, judiciary and senate; (ii) lure away one of the Puea Thai partners or cobra politicians; (iii) use its lackeys in the judiciary and Election Commission to alter the “election” outcome by disqualifications and dissolutions; or (iv) another coup.

Interesting times.