Never-ending judicial politicization

8 02 2020

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

The Bangkok Post has a very useful article on yet another Constitutional Court political fudge.

While the vote on the Court was a close 5-4, it ruled that, despite regime MPs breaching the law and the constitution, the 2020 budget bill was “partially constitutional.”

Just those words show how manipulative the Constitutional Court is in seeking to bolster the regime of “good people.”

The Court “ordered MPs to vote again on the second and third readings during which illegal proxy voting was found.”

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

House Speaker Chuan Leekpai has duly “called for a special session of the House of Representatives next Thursday to repeat the two readings to comply with the court ruling. Officials hope the process can be completed within one day.” That will be it, done and dusted and hang the law….

The Constitutional Court issued a statement “explaining” its decision:

The court said in a statement issued after the ruling that proxy voting violates the one MP-one-vote principle in the charter and House regulations, and actions must be taken against the wrongdoers according to related laws.

The court said its focus on the case was the process. It found the first reading went smoothly and was therefore constitutional. However, proxy voting took place in the second and third readings during Jan 10-11, making this part of the process unconstitutional.

Besides, the court wrote, there is an urgent need for budget disbursement and the new Constitutional Court law allows it to prescribe actions to be taken.

The court therefore decided the House vote again on the second and third readings. After that, the Senate will be asked to vote again on the bill. The House must report back to the court within 30 days from Friday.

“Explaining” yet another double standards contortion, the court said the circumstances were different from its ruling in 2014 against the then Yingluck Shinawatra government’s infrastructure bill.

While it did rule that “[d]uring the vote on the … bill for infrastructure projects … a Pheu Thai MP was found using more than one voting card,” the Court added this in on a ruling on a petition by an agitated Democrat Party that the infrastructure bill contravened sections 122 and 126 of the 2007 constitution.

It so ruled, although reading those sections of the constitution and the reporting of its 2014 ruling, it seems the Court knew that such a ruling was flimsy at best, so backed it up by ruling “that proxy voting breached the one-MP-one-vote principle in the 2007 constitution.” But, it now explains, the infrastructure borrowing bill had “essential clauses that [we]re unconstitutional”; the 2020 budget bill does not. It did not further elaborate.

But that seems a remarkable stretch. If a constitutional provision is broken, then it is broken, whether it is one article or three.

But there’s more constitutional trouble ahead, with iLaw observing that “Section 143 of the charter prescribes that the House must finish deliberating a budget bill within 105 days from the date it reaches the House. The deadline in this case was the end of January.”

We imagine that the devious Constitutional Court will need to sort that glitch out as well, again in favor of the generals and their regime.





Updated: Judiciary exposed

6 10 2019

Thailand’s judiciary has been a pliant and willing arm of the ruling class, and courts like the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court have been politicized. Most Thais understand that the judiciary’s standards are double standards. Justice is certainly not blind.

These aspects of the (in)justice system have been tragically on display after a judge shot himself in court. This is how Khaosod reported that event:

Yala senior judge Khanakorn Pianchana pulled out a handgun and shot himself in the chest inside a courtroom moments after he acquitted five defendants of murder and firearm charges. In a court filing leaked on social media after his suicide attempt, Khanakorn said he was pressured by his supervisor to find the men guilty despite lack of evidence.

Khanakorn’s statements were written inside a full court verdict, which is typically released to the press after a ruling.

The judge said he was threatened by regional justice chief Permsak Saisrithong to deliver a guilty verdict on the five defendants, or Khanakorn himself would be placed under a disciplinary hearing if he disobeys.

Khanakorn said he could not bring himself to condemn the men due to lack of hard evidence. If found guilty, the defendants would have faced death penalty.

The Bangkok Post reported that Khanakorn earlier posted a 25-page ruling online:

The document states the case he was hearing concerned national security and was related to secret association, conspiracy and gun-law offences.

The document allegedly described disagreements among senior judges over the case ruling, in which Mr Khanakorn reportedly decided to acquit all five defendants.

Messages reading “Return the ruling to the judges” and “Return justice to the people” were repeated three times in the document. The Court of Justice has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the circulated document.

The initial response of the Office of the Judiciary was to blame Khanakorn, saying he “had apparently acted out of stress from personal issues.” As ever, it said it would launch an investigation (read this as “launch a cover-up”).

Those who have seen the injustice of the judicial system were quick to point out the apparent meddling in the case, seemingly for political reasons. But the defense of the judicial system was strong and perverted.

Poramate Intarachumnum, chief of the Department of Thonburi Criminal Litigation, cited in the Bangkok Post, “said the public should withhold their criticism for the time being because what they read might turn out to be true.” That’s also a kind of blaming the victim. It was also part of a developing and truly bizarre deep yellow conspiracy theory-cum-plot. Supporters of the junta-cum-government claimed a political plot, masterminded by the Future Forward Party. The “evidence” being that that opposition party chairs a parliamentary committee on justice and, most grotesquely, that the judge, now recovering, had deliberately not intended to kill himself…. This lot seem ready to believe any concocted “plot.”

Meanwhile, the Court of Justice has insisted that nothing is wrong in the (in)justice system. Its Secretary-general Sarawut Benjakul said “his office … would submit the case to the Judicial Commission, a panel of judges who make decisions concerning themselves by voting.” That is said to be an “independent agency” being “independent.” In fact, it is analogous to cases where the military vets itself – a cover-up results.

Of course, the judiciary is anything but independent. Rather, it is a part of the bureaucracy.

It is known that as the case was “deemed important, Mr Khanakorn had to send it to the Region 9 chief judge’s office for a review.”

When the ruling reached the regional chief judge’s office, two senior judges reviewed it first and wrote on the memo that they disagreed with it. The regional chief judge then allegedly stamped “confidential” on the memo and ordered Mr Khanakorn to rewrite the ruling based on the opinions of his superiors.

Mr Khanakorn pointed out one of the two high-ranking judges who reviewed his ruling had checked it out before and made changes only in minor details. He said he could not help but suspect he might have agreed with his ruling but something had changed his mind later.

A Bangkok Post picture

Mr Khanakorn wrote that by law, if a chief judge disagrees with a ruling, he must put it in writing in the document. It didn’t happen in this case and instead Mr Khanakorn was told in confidence to reverse the ruling to convict the five defendants.

“If I complied with his request, there would have been no evidence in the case files showing that the conviction, instead of the acquittal, was the result of the chief judge’s order. Instead, it will be on me and my panel of judges who signed the ruling,” he wrote.

“If I complied with the order, three of the defendants would have been executed for first-degree murder — there’s no lesser penalty to choose from — and two others would have been imprisoned as accomplices.

“The confidential memo also said if I insisted on acquitting them, I must detain them during an appeal, which makes no sense to me.”

He added that if he defied the order, he would be investigated and eventually he would have to quit.

In Khanakorn’s view, “the case was not related to national security or terrorism. Yet all evidence and witnesses were acquired while the five were detained under martial law and emergency laws which allow detention of up to 30 days without charges, although the laws are intended for security or terrorism cases only.” He seemed to consider that the defendants had been framed by the police. That’s not unusual for Thailand’s police and nor for the military.

Suspiciously, “a spokesman of for the Region 4 Forward Command of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), said security officials had never interfered with the justice system…”. He’s lying.

Update: As usually happens in regime cover-ups, those protecting themselves and their comfortable and powerful position have decided to “investigate” for so-called disciplinary offenses, and will probably charge the judge who shot himself. This blames the victim and takes the heat off those who make the problems. These are quite awful and exceptionally nasty people who have learned from their peers and their predecessors that they have impunity, so long as they line up with the great and the good.





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.