Students rolling, royalists reacting

23 08 2020

As demonstrations continue, it might be expected that the young students and their supporters might be losing some support by demanding reform of the monarchy and calling for an end to the military-backed regime, both seen by conservatives as the cornerstone of the status quo.

In fact, this doesn’t seem to be happening. The Bangkok Post reports two surveys, one by the seldom trustworthy NIDA Poll with 1,312 respondents and another by the Suan Dusit Poll which claims 197,029 respondents. Go beyond the headlines, and it seems that a large majority support the students and their headline three demands. It also seems that support for the regime has dropped even more.

In the most recent demonstration in Khon Kaen, a statement was issued and called:

for an end to intimidation of the people, the government’s legal action against people with different opinions, inequality in education, inequities in the justice process and the plunder of natural resources.

“We want rights and freedom and human dignity because we are not slaves. We want a democracy which belongs to the people. We want equality in education and true justice in the judicial process. We want the decentralisation of power and the right of communities to manage their own resources. We want a new democracy….

Interestingly, several of these demands have ideological continuities with the rights demands heard during red shirt rallies a decade ago. That seems organic in the sense that many of today’s protesters were very young when the red shirts rose.

When the military has its government pad out its budget through rubber-stamping in parliament, the students get more supporters.

Regime and royalist reaction is pretty much what might be expected. As well as giving the military more kit, the regime is shoring up its support among the top brass. An example it Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s likely pick for next air force boss. Apparently, the job requirement is that the appointee must be “intelligent, ethical, dedicated and loyal to the monarchy.” We doubt the first two criteria can be fulfilled along with the last requirement. The other loyalty must be to the regime’s leaders.

Rightists are straggling along, as yet not well organized. This means they flop back on old tactics. For example, the “independent” agencies are used to undermine those various rightists think are “behind the children.” So it is that serial complainer Srisuwan Janya “says he will petition the Election Commission (EC) to look into whether the Move Forward Party (MFP) broke the law on political parties by proposing to amend the constitution’s Chapters 1 and 2 which contain general principles and sections associated with the monarchy.” Who pays him?

And surveillance and repression continues. As would be expected, “[s]ecurity agencies are keeping an eye on political activities ahead of a planned student rally on Sept 19 to prevent protest actions that may lead to violence and unrest…”, painting a picture of “Hong Kong violence,” obviously seeking to influence and agitate the Sino-Thais of Bangkok and linking to yellow-shirt ideologues who follow Russian troll sites on “color revolutions.”

They are also seeking to limit protest growth through political alliances with groups like the Assembly of the Poor. Hence last week’s arrest of the Assembly secretary-general, Baramee Chairat, for alleged offenses at the 18 July rally.

We doubt that these military and police spies are about preventing violence and are more about preventing protest and agitating against the “children.”

There’s a long road to be traveled.





Updated: Red Bull facts

27 07 2020

A story at Thai Enquirer notes that:

Red Bull’s parent company in Thailand, TCP Group, released a public statement distancing itself from Vorayuth Yoovidhya who was revealed this week to have been acquitted for a traffic incident which left a police officer dead.

It adds:

The case also sparked scrutiny of Thailand’s large income divide, the Yoovidhya family is estimated to be worth $13.1 billion in a country where the average daily income is slightly more than 10 dollars per day.

Red Bull’s parent conglomerate TCP Group, facing a social media boycott, stated:

TCP Group would like to clarify that Mr. Vorayuth Yoovidhya has never assumed any role in the management and daily operations of TCP Group, was never a shareholder, nor has he held any executive position within TCP Group….

It is almost impossible to verify these claims for a private company that operates in a remarkably opaque manner.

Noting that, in 2002, the family-run “Red Bull GmbH produces the world’s leading energy drink. More than a billion cans a year are sold in nearly 100 countries,” Reference for Business states that “Red Bull holds a 70 percent share of the world market for energy drinks…”.

Known as Krating Daeng in Thailand, it has been “produced since the early 1970s by the T.C. Pharmaceutical Co., founded in Thailand in 1962 by Chaleo Yoovidhya [Xǔ Shūbiāo] …. T.C. Pharmaceutical eventually formed the subsidiary Red Bull Beverage Co. Ltd…”. Dietrich Mateschitz was the foreign partner in Red Bull GmbH who worked for Blendax, a German manufacturer of toothpaste that Chaleo marketed in Thailand.

As a private company in Thailand and internationally, there is almost no information on the company. But, we know: “Today, Red Bull GmbH is 51 percent controlled by the Yoovidhya family, who own the trademark for the drink in Europe and the United States of America…”. The only public information about the parent company in Thailand is a list of six members of TCP’s board of directors. Five of the six listed are named Yoovidhya. The sixth and Chair of the Board, Pavana Langthara, is one of Chaleo’s daughters.

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

Back in 2012, when Vorayuth killed the policeman, it was widely believed Vorayuth would go free:

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of the late founder of Red Bull, billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya, had initially fled the scene but later confessed to hitting the policeman, police said. He was released hours later on 500,000 baht ($16,000) bail.

Though Vorayuth has yet to appear in court, there seemed little faith among the public that justice would be served.

“Jail is only for the poor. The rich never get punished. Find a scapegoat,” said one of a stream of comments posted on the popular Thai website, Panthip.com.

It was also reported that Vorayuth “tested positively for cocaine in his blood…”.

Where did Vorayuth flee to after the crash?

Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family’s gated estate in a wealthy neighborhood of the Thai capital.

The family prevented police from accessing the compound for some time, allowing covering-up to begin. Recall that the cover-up began when a police investigator “initially tried to cover up the crime by turning in a bogus suspect.”

Then the family sought to pay off the dead policeman’s family: they “struck a deal that will pay the officer’s siblings less than US$100,000.”

In other words, TCP/Red Bull is a Sino-Thai family-owned, private company completely dominated by the Yoovidhya family. For the family to claim that Vorayuth is not on the board or in management is a nonsense. He is, as he was long-described, an heir to the family fortune, made from Red Bull. His family stood by him early in the legal processes and it would be absurd to think the family did not know of his legal tactics and evasions.

In another “fact check,” we noted a Thai PBS report that Constitutional Court judge Thaveekiart Meenakanit “urged Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to investigate alleged mishandling, by the police and the public prosecutors, of the Red Bull heir hit and run case…”.

Obviously, the case is not constitutional, but the judge worried that “Thailand’s justice system has been rendered meaningless, after the prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges against the suspect and the police’s failure to challenge that decision.”

The judge fretted that it “the suspect was spared prosecution, apparently because of his economic and social status, is unprecedented and incomprehensible.”

We wonder if Thaveekiart has been asleep fro the past 15 years? Has he missed the double standards applied to red shirts? Has he missed the way the poor are locked up and the rich go free all the time? Has he slept through his own court’s politically-biased decisions? Has he snored through the massive impunity enjoyed by the murderous military?

The judge is right that “the majority of the people now see that the law is no longer sacred or to be respected” but he’s a decade and half late in recognizing it. But when he says that the current regime “can now only lean on law and order to justify its existence…”, he’s completely out of touch. The regime’s existence depends on the illegal 2014 military coup.

While sleepy, his point that this travesty of (in)justice “is the beginning of the end of the Government…” reflects the manner in which the royalist regime has relied on the judiciary to legitimize its rule. He’s warning that allowing the Red Bull lot to get away with murder is threatening to the regime’s claims to legitimacy, even if we know that legitimacy is based on double standards and impunity.

Remarkably, the judge explained “that many people believe that the Prime Minister’s reported acceptance of a 300 million baht donation from the Red Bull empire a few months ago, might be related to the decisions of the prosecutors and the police concerning the case.”

Now, that’s a question worth asking!

How high can the junta pile it?

Update: Helpfully, in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Ploenpote Atthakor that the buffalo manure that passes for justice in this case is “the rule not the exception.” She adds: “I need not tell you why there are such blatant double standards. If I do, I’ll only end up sounding like a broken record…”.

Meanwhile, following Thaveekiart’s advice, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered “an inquiry into the prosecution’s decision to drop a reckless driving charge against Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya following public outrage over the news…”. Yet he betrayed his affinity for the filthy rich when he doled out buffalo poo by calling “on critics and media outlets not to seize on the controversy and distort facts or cause misunderstanding…”. The only misunderstanding seems to be among the relevant authorities! Laughably, he declared “he has never intervened in the justice administration process and the prosecution works under no political pressure…”.

Posterior covering reigns, with the prosecutors and Office of the Attorney General leaking:

New specialist and motorist witnesses who made statements that Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya did not drive his Ferrari over the speed limit and that the policeman who was killed abruptly cut in front of his vehicle are the key factors which convinced prosecutors to drop charges against the Red Bull scion.

In a leaked document outlining public prosecutors’ reasoning for their decision to drop the charge against Mr Vorayuth of reckless driving causing death, information from the new witnesses was given more weight than previous evidence, including forensic results.

It is astounding to think that after eight years of being unable to find Vorayuth, the authorities found new “witnesses.” To add to the “story,” the prosecutors blamed the victim.

Why the Office of the Attorney-General has now “set up a seven-member fact-finding panel to investigate the decision, by Thailand’s Office of Special Prosecutors for Criminal Litigation, to drop charges” seems bizarre when “Nate Naksuk, chief justice of the Department of Appealate Litigation in his capacity as acting attorney-general, signed the order to drop the charge.”





On how to hail the king

8 07 2020

It isn’t often that we see an English-language example of the way in which, over several decades, officials have been tied to the monarchy. However, in one of the Bangkok Post’s paid PR columns, Asst Prof Dr Sommai Pivsa-Art’s rise to President at Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi details of the effort to tie high-ranked officials to the throne. This has been particularly effective in the military but also in the judiciary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and among medicos and in universities.

Sommai;s appointment is said to be bestowed by “His Majesty the King.”

A ceremony was held for Sommai “to receive the Office of the Prime Minister announcement delivered by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sujira Khojimate Vice President.” The announcement stated:

As Mr Prasert Pinprathomrat on 4 December 2019 submitted his resignation from the President position at Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi bestowed on 27 August 2017 and signed on 4 September 2017, Asst. Prof. Dr. Sommai Pivsa-Art was bestowed the position of President at Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi by Appointment of His Majesty the King. His Majesty the King has issued a royal command to appoint him as President at Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, effective from 8 March 2020. The royal command is countersigned by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

Sommai then responded to the “royal command,” saying:

As His Majesty the King bestowed the appointment on me, Asst. Prof. Dr. Sommai Pivsa-Art, to be promoted as President of Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, it is the highest honour for me and my family to be grateful for His Majesty’s kindness. On this occasion, I would like to extend best wishes to His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua for joyful longevity with excellent health and happiness during his reign. I, Asst. Prof. Dr. Sommai Pivsa-Art, President of Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi, would like to take an oath to work with maximum capacity to serve His Majesty the King with optimum knowledge and skill, along with honesty, dedication, and diligence, to deliver work progress and gather Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi people to create and develop the university to reach prosperity and receive wide recognition in society, communities and at national and international levels, following His Majesty the King’s footprints, and adhere to morality and virtue.

All hail the feudal lord.





Demonstrating double standards

2 07 2020

Double standards have been a defining feature of the judiciary and the so-called independent agencies since the 2006 military coup. Confidence in the judiciary has declined and the “independent” agencies are a laughable.

Even so, they continue to coordinate on double standards. The reports of the last day or so shout DOUBLE STANDARDS!

The Constitutional Court ruled on 1 July that the ruling party’s Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka had not abused his authority when in August 2019 he jetted off to Phuket to involve himself in case there and “attacked a police officer … for not providing him with an escort.” The loudmouthed Bangkok MP shouted at the hapless policeman, describing himself as a big shot who should have police escorts. The Palang Pracharath Party hack now plans to sue the 57 MPs who brought the complaint. It remains unclear why a Bangkok MP was involved in local affairs in Phuket.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite convicted criminal and deputy minister, Thammanat Prompao, also of the Palang Pracharath Party.  The Constitutional Court also rejected a petition against him. The Court had been asked “to rule on the eligibility of Thamanat … holding a seat in parliament due to his wife’s business dealings with The Port Authority of Thailand (PAT).” This wife, one of two, “holds shares in Klongtoey Market (2551) Co Ltd, and the company entered into a land lease contract with the … PAT.” He was claimed to be in breach of Article 184 of the constitution. While that article is straightforward and applies to spouses, “the court said it found the contract with PAT is not monopolistic. Therefore, there is no reason for Mr Thamanat to lose his status as an MP.” We have no idea why a monopoly matters in this case, except for the Court is slippery interpretation.

We suppose that ruling royalist party MPs getting off is par for the course these days and that the cases might sort of slip by as “normal” these days.

But then there is other news that makes it all reprehensible.

It is reported that:

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra abused her power, in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, for her illegal removal, nine years ago, of Thawil Pliensri, from his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council and subsequent reassignment to the PM’s Office as an advisor.

NACC deputy secretary-general, Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, said today (Wednesday) that the NACC’s investigative panel found that  Thawil’s abrupt transfer was carried out with undue haste, taking just four days for the entire process to be completed.

Readers will recall that Yingluck was unanimously found at fault by the Constitutional Court and dismissed from office for the transfer of a top security officer, Thawil Pliensri, as National Security Council secretary-general in 2011.

That, following the 2014 coup, the junta summarily transferred hundreds of officials counts for nothing. It’s okay when the royalist thugs do it under conditions where only their “law” matters via retrospective edicts and so on.

Now the NACC “wants to bring another case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.” The NACC “will ask that Ying­luck be indicted for malfeasance and abuse of power.”

These royalist minions to the junta/post-junta are a nasty lot, but this action seems oddly vindictive. Why are they doing it? It is our guess that the regime’s bosses (again) see Thaksin Shinawatra as “stirring up trouble,” so they hit the family again.

 





Thanet’s long trial

30 06 2020

A few days ago, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported on the long-running set of cases against Thanet Anantawong. A couple of news outlets picked up the story, including The Thaiger.

A photo from The Straits Times of a damaged statue at Rajabhakti Park

Thanet’s case goes back to 2015 and protests against the Army’s huge posterior polish of the monarchy when it opened its tacky Rajabhakti Park of giant bronzes of selected kings. The Army was accused of corruption and students and activists demonstrated. Thanet supported them.

This sent Army thugs in search of reasons to jail Thanet, a red shirt. A military court soon issued a warrant for the arrest of the working class 25 year-old on charges of lese majeste, inciting disorder and computer crimes, accused of having shared an infographic detailing the corruption, criticized Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda and commented on the death in custody of then then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s soothsayer,  Suriyan Sujaritpalawong in five Facebook posts.

The lese majeste charge was quietly dropped soon after he was arrested but the other charges remained, alleging that Thanet’s posts “caused people to dislike the government, leading to protests to topple it.”

When arrested, Thanet was dragged from a hospital bed, and eventually spent 3 years and 10 months in jail awaiting some of the charges to be heard.

TLHR report that Thanet has now “been acquitted of national security and computer crime charges…”. Showing the good sense that is so often missing from the royalist judiciary, the court ruled “that while Thanet may have had different views from those in power at the time, he acted constitutionally:

The court believes his expression of opinions was not intended to stir up sedition or disobedience among people to the extent it could cause unrest in the kingdom or law violations. It was legitimate free speech. Since the witnesses and evidence of the plaintiff do not carry sufficient weight to warrant a guilty verdict, we’ve dismissed the charges.

The notion of “legitimate free speech” is something the courts should be held to in future.





Monarchy down

15 05 2020

For several years, Pavin Chachavalpongpun has been a relentless critic of the monarchy. He has another op-ed available, this time with The Washington Post.

There’s not a lot that is new in this op-ed. However, Pavin’s main point is challenging for royalists: he shows that anti-monarchism is rising and he believes that republicanism is growing.

Of course, it is difficult to judge these matters in Thailand where the media self-censors and is censored on the monarchy, the lese majeste and other repressive laws are in place and where the monarchy enjoys support from related institutions like the military, bureaucracy and judiciary. It is recent social media activism and protests against the king (in Germany) that gives Pavin hope.

On lese majeste (and, presumably, other repressive laws), Pavin states:

The problem for the king is that such a law can work only as long as his subjects continue to regard the monarchy with a measure of reverence. His father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, could still claim to serve as a symbol of national unity. But Vajiralongkorn (officially known as King Rama X) no longer appears to enjoy such respect. Lacking any sort of comparable legitimacy, he has chosen to rule by intimidation instead. Thailand has become a kingdom of fear.

We are not sure we agree with all of this. After all, lese majeste has been a major element of political repression and intimidation for most of this century. That law had nothing to do with reverence.”

An interesting angle in the article is the argument that Vajiralongkorn now has a powerful “network”:

critics worry that the king has established an unprecedented degree of control over the military, the police and the judiciary that raises serious questions about palace accountability and the rule of law.

Under Bhumibol there was the “network monarchy.” Now we have Vajiralongkorn’s network. Will it be enough to secure the absent king’s interests and those of the ruling class? We suspect it won’t be protesters that bring down the king, but fissures in the ruling class. These will develop when the filthy rich and/or the military brass realize that Vajiralongkorn is threatening their interests.





Dogs of internal war

11 05 2020

The Economist has recently reflected on the military’s problems and the way it seems that average Thais are rejecting it.

Most of the article is behind a paywall, so we quote from it extensively in this post.

The article begins with a quote from Gen Apirat Kongsompong, Army commander, who spat out the complaint that “[e]ven military dogs are grateful to the army…” as he complained that the Thai people “should be overflowing with gratitude” to the Army, one of the country’s “sacred” institutions.

He seems to believe that Thais should be grateful for conscription, corruption and coups. Oh, yes, and those tens of thousands killed by the military in “protecting” the country’s ruling class over several decades.

Tongue in cheek, The Economist detects that “ordinary Thais do not seem to realise how lucky they are. Indeed, they have been showing signs of sacrilege.”

The report goes on to discuss conscription, observing that there is widespread unhappiness with this throwback enlistment and its associated modern-day slavery and its sadistic violence. It is noted that just 13% of “42,000 conscripts scheduled for discharge at the end of April have volunteered to stay on, despite the wilting economy,” adding: “So unpopular is conscription that a new party which promised to end it and seek other military reforms won the third most seats in last year’s [rigged] election.”

That would be Future Forward and the military’s regime got rid of it through their allies in the judiciary.

Rotten to the core

The report also discusses the “fuss about military spending is another sign of Thais’ diminishing regard for men in uniform.” Responding to rising protest, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime quickly moved to cut “military spending by 8%.” It had little choice, as the economy is in even deeper trouble now than it was at the beginning of the year.

Then there was the “biggest blow to the army’s standing came in February, when a soldier went on a shooting rampage in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, killing 29 people.” It judges that the incident:

revealed the army’s incompetence (the killer obtained guns and ammunition by raiding a poorly guarded armoury), corruption (he seems to have been enraged after being cheated in a property deal involving relatives of a superior officer) and arrogance (it was criticism of the army’s response to the killings that prompted General Apirat to complain about ingratitude).

Soon after the massacre General Apirat pledged to reform military housing and root out corruption. … [Gen] Prayuth weighed in, too, promising to halve the number of generals—there are about 1,700 of them—and to trim the army overall. Thailand has some 560,000 soldiers and reservists. Britain, with a similar population and pretensions as a global power, has about 230,000.

Of course, nothing has happened and nothing much is likely to happen.

The report has some gaps. More could have been made of the virus hotspot at the Army’s boxing stadium, presided over by Gen Apirat, but the main item that should have been discussed is the military’s relationship with the king. It is this relationship that has sustained both military and monarchy. It is a relationship that is rotten to the core, has damaged the country and has made many generals and the king very wealthy.





Royalty and rewards

5 05 2020

Being a loyal minion of the palace brings rewards and for some rather grand rewards. At the top of the pile of slithering posterior polishers are privy councilors. Under the previous king, the old princes he initially appointed, their task was to build the monarchy politically and economically. Later, and especially when dedicated crawling former prime minister Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, the major task was ensuring that all that the government did had royal approval. This was seen in Prem’s control of military promotion for decades.

The now dead King Bhumibol was especially keen to develop links and clients in the judiciary. He appointed several legal experts and former judges to the Privy Council, some of who, in the 1970s, he managed to hoist into positions as unelected prime ministers.

The solidly royalist judiciary has been especially useful for the monarchy and the military as it battled Thaksin Shinawatra and his successor who dominated electoral politics. The judiciary has been politically biased, bringing case after case against parties and people seen as enemies of the ruling class.

Now Bhumibol’s son seems to be following in his father’s footsteps. He has issued orders that have essentially told the Constitutional Court how it should operate. And, no doubt, he has smiled on the dissolution of parties he (and the military leadership) sees as anti-monarchy.

This is a long introduction to Vajiralongkorn’s appointment of former President of the Constitutional Court Nurak Mapraneet to the Privy Council.

According to the Bangkok Post, Nurak “previously held many important positions in the judiciary including presiding judge of the Chaiya Provincial Court, presiding judge of the Phuket Provincial Court, deputy chief of the Office of Chief Justices Region 6, chief justice of the Court of Appeal Region 8 and chief of the youth and family cases section at the Court of Appeal Region 7.” As a reliable ally of the military, “[a]fter the Sept 19, 2006 coup, … Nurak was made a member of the Constitutional Drafting Council and later appointed to the Constitutional Court.” He became president of the Constitutional Court on 21 May 2014 and retired on 31 March 2020.

Most recently, Nurak completed his assigned task and as president of the court, oversaw the dissolution of the Future Forward Party and banned its executive from politics for a decade.

As the first linked report has it:

During his tenure as president, Nurak was responsible for dissolving six political parties, including the Future Forward Party in February, the Thai Rak Thai party and the Thai Raksachat Party…. He also voted to remove two prime ministers (Samak Sonntorawej and Yingluck Shinawatra)….

The rewards for royal groveling are now going to flow, so long as Nurak doesn’t annoy the erratic king.





Updated: More Future Forward charges

11 03 2020

Thailand’s great and good want to obliterate the leadership of Future Forward. These upstarts are considered threats to the status quo who must be destroyed.

A few days ago it was reported that Future Forward’s former spokesperson Pannika Wanich, hated by the elite, is to be hit with lese majeste-like computer crimes law.

Last Friday she fronted inspectors of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, “accused of violating Section 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act, which prohibits the publication of false information that could affect national security.” In other words, the monarchy.

The ludicrous accusation “stems from a 2013 Facebook post about ‘the national institution’, a common euphemism for the monarchy.”

Meanwhile, junta puppet and tool of the military-backed regime the Election Commission has decided to lay criminal charges against former Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Thanathorn “may face a jail term up to 10 years and a 20-year ban from politics over his media shareholding…”.

The EC accuses him of “applying to be an MP candidate knowing he was not qualified” under Section 151 of the 2018 MP Election Act.” This is the ludicrous case over buffalo manure “media” ownership.

Both cases are, like everything else judicial under the junta/post-junta regime, a political stitch-up. How much more of this manure can they pile up? This nonsense has been going on for years now. It’s corrupt and it has made the judiciary a processing terminal for the ruling elite.

Update: In an op-ed, deputy editor at the Bangkok Post, Surasak Glahan expresses the frustration of many:

With the Election Commission (EC)’s decision on Tuesday to pursue criminal charges against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit over a much-disputed media share transfer case, many observers may have stopped questioning how Thailand’s law-enforcement system could have come this far, and started wondering whether the worst of things is yet to come.

The poll agency’s move against the leader of the disbanded opposition Future Forward Party (FFP) comes at a time when public mistrust of Thailand’s justice system has already reached its peak…

He points out the dire consequences of this politicization of the judiciary and points out the gross double standards involved.





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.