Law and the challenge for the Constitutional Court

21 02 2019

The fallout from Thaksin Shinawatra’s ill-fated attempt to have Ubolratana nominated as the Thai Raksa Chart Party prime ministerial candidate continues.

The Bangkok Post reports that the party’s defense before the Constitutional Court has three parts:

First, the party has no hidden agenda and its nomination received consent from Princess Ubolratana to stand as the TRC’s prime ministerial candidate.

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

Secondly, the party will show the term “hostile” does not cover the party’s actions. In their view, the term covers communism and rebellions under Section 113 of the Criminal Code.

Lastly, the EC’s complaint is unlawful because the agency failed to follow a due process by conducting a probe into the issue….

To understand the “charges,” it should be recalled that the puppet Election Commission unanimously and very rapidly decided to recommend the dissolution of Thai Raksa Chart based on “evidence” that included:

the Feb 8 royal announcement, the party’s letter notifying the person it proposed as the prime ministerial candidate and the party’s letter allowing Parliament to consider approving its candidate as PM.

In this context, Prachatai’s interview with Sawatree Suksri, a law lecturer with the Faculty of Law at Thammasat University “on the legal status of the Royal Command and its interpretation” is important reading.

She is adamant that the so-called Royal Command or Proclamation is not law, despite its use as such by the EC and anti-Thaksin forces. She states:

If anything is to become law, it has to follow the country’s legislative system. Thailand has a codified system of laws issued by the legislative branch, or the executive branch in the case of a royal ordinance, or the administration in cases of secondary laws where this is allowed by the fundamental laws. Because of this, the royal command is not a law, because it did not go through legislative procedures.

Sawatree adds: “the content of the Royal Command is not an order, but a recommendation.”

In other words, the use of King Vajirlongkorn’s royal proclamation on his elder sister is now a test of the judiciary. If the Constitutional Court acts appropriately and legally, it would reject the EC’s use of the king’s proclamation. If it stays true to it royalism, it will change the very meaning of law in Thailand, taking the country even further towards a neo-absolutist regime.





Release Pai XII

6 04 2017

The (in)justice system in Thailand continues to behave as the junta’s messengers.

Prachatai reports that on 5 April, the Region 4 Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the Court of First Instance not to release Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, who faces a fit-up on lese majeste charges.

The court agreed with the other court that releasing New Democracy activist Jatuphat was impossible. They concurred that the activist had mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law and is facing other charges for violating the Public Referendum Act and the military junta’s ban on political gatherings.

The court stated that “the suspect could try to interfere with evidence or jump bail if he is released.” He certainly didn’t jump bail when he briefly had it earlier.

Sawatree Suksri from Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law “pointed out that one goal of bail is to allow defendants to fight their case fairly.” That’s the point. The junta, the palace and the courts are not interested in justice or legal fairness.

She said that “[b]ail allows defendants to seek and develop evidence for their case more freely, and to consult with their lawyer privately.” That’s the point. The junta, the palace and the courts are not interested in justice or having a defense against lese majeste. They just want to lock defendants up for years.

Sawatree says that “bail assists defendants to seek justice to the best of their ability, bail rejections should be an exception rather than the rule.” In lese majeste cases, where there is no justice, are the rule.

We can be sure that the repeated refusal of bail is the junta’s decision and may well reflect the position of the palace. Both are seeking to send a message that political activism is out and that even pointing to something that is accurate but critical of the monarchy must be considered a political abomination. Neither group has a track record suggesting respect of the law.





Junta’s convenience and law

1 07 2016

At PPT we’ve recently had several posts that have commented on aspects of the militarization of the law under the military dictatorship as well as its concoction of “laws” that serve its interests, mainly by allowing the ready repression of opponents.

The Bangkok Post recently reported on how such circumstances are manipulated for junta convenience for the web. Sawatree Suksri, a law lecturer at Thammasat University and member of Nitirat observes that website administrators have their pages “shut down by authorities [and] do not have a fair chance to defend their rights in court…”.

Officially, a court order is required to shut down a web page or site, but seldom do the authorities bother with a legal case. Sawatree states that:

In most cases, state agencies demanding the removal of specific content do not file legal charges against the administrators. They simply gather evidence and forward their request to the court, which will in turn issue an order….

This process allows no opportunities for the legality of the closure to be challenged.

She noted that a “page from the Nitirat website has been blocked for the past two years. Still, no formal complaint has been lodged against us.”

That page” contained a transcript of the Khana Rasadorn’s declaration when they abolished the absolute monarchy in Thailand in 1932, which was simply a piece of historical evidence,” but it had been blocked.

Nitirat was unable to “appeal against the court’s decision because there had been no hearing. As it was a court order rather than an administrative order, they could not file a complaint with the Administrative Court.”

Just one more example of how the junta manipulates law is a tool for repression, usually with the connivance of the judiciary and military courts.





Barbarians on campus

22 11 2015

The headline is from an excellent Bangkok Post Spectrum article by Nanchanok Wongsamuth that comments at length on the intimidation of students and faculty at Thai universities. In it, dean of Ubon Ratchathani University’s political science faculty Chaiyan Rajchaigool, describes the military’s campus patrols as “barbaric”.

He observed that the patrols, where the military drives around campus, appears armed on campus, visits classrooms, talks to faculty and administrators, “intimidated students and faculty members, likening it to treating them as if they were guilty of thought crime.”

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “denounced university lecturers as having instigated rebellious thoughts and actions among students.”

PPT won’t repeat all of the article, which deserves a full reading. We simply reproduce bits and pieces that struck us chilling, revealing and important.

Titipol Phakdeewanich claims not to discuss politics on Facebook. His colleagues at Ubon Ratchathani University “describe him as not politically vocal, and his criticisms as not provocative or hostile, but within the boundaries determined by normal Thai politeness.” Titipol says: “My work does not involve opposition against the NCPO or the government…”.

Yet because the military is so fearful and so conspiratorial that he teaches on democracy and human rights is a threat to national security and the monarchist regime. Since “his first unofficial meeting with military officers in December last year, the army’s continued presence in classrooms, seminars and events involving international organisations has left the political science lecturer feeling fear and concern.” He has reason for his worries: “Titipol has been monitored [by the military] at eight different events that he knows of, each involving an international organisation.”

[T]he army has banned political gatherings of more than five people, it has often included seminars and academic discussions under that rule. Many event organisers are required to submit requests to authorities prior to staging a discussion. Most of the requests related to democracy, politics and lese majeste, however, have been rejected, often without any explanation.

The Army has watched and been suspicious of “topics ranging from corruption and scholarships to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.”

Titipol has links with the UNDP, U.S. Embassy and EU Mission. Military officers ask him: “what exactly are they trying to lead you into believing today?” He observes “they now see democracy as propaganda and a threat to national security.”

Read some of the comments under the story and you see that there is a stream of paranoia, from Left to Right, that views the U.S. as a Thaksin Shinawatra-supporting regime that wants to overthrow the monarchy and regime in Thailand. Madness, no real evidence other than conspiratorial blogs, but actually believed by some, including elements of the ruling regime.

Meanwhile, the climate of fear has extended into classrooms, where critical thinking is toned down and lecturers tell Spectrum they are reluctant to discuss “sensitive” issues, for fear of army surveillance. As well as overt means, there is also a fear that someone in a class may be spying or even reporting the content via family connections.

Faculty and administrators are required by the military to “closely monitor the activities of their students…”.

Vinai Poncharoen is an associate professor at Mahasarakham University’s College of Politics and Governance. he military fears him: “Last month, an army colonel and his subordinates held a meeting at the university with Mr Vinai, the faculty dean and vice-dean.” Vinai stated: “I told them I would not stop posting about politics on Facebook…. The colonel threatened me that this would be his last request, but refused to tell me what would happen if I violated his rule.”

The result is self-censorship: “when teaching Thai politics, he is careful when discussing the monarchy and instead uses obscure references.” He knows that there are spies on campus: “A staff member from the student affairs division had attended one of his lectures and the university’s legal adviser also attempted to add him as a Facebook friend.” Spying works better when threatening: “They [the army] said they have a spy in the university watching over me…”.

Assistant professor of law at Thammasat University Sawatree Suksri has “monthly visits to her house by three to five army officers who arrive in pickup trucks…”.

The meetings are described “as intimidating.”  She states: “Regardless of their manner, I don’t think the presence of military officers at home is considered normal…. It is a form of intimidation. It is sending the signal that we are no longer free.”

Since then, three to five officers meet him at the faculty every one to two months in what he describes as a “very polite” manner.

Worachet Pakeerut, already facing charges, has “three to five officers meet him at the faculty every one to two months.” He says:

Having people check on us all the time is like having ‘Big Brother’ watching over you. And for what? They are wasting their time, but on the other hand it is probably a psychological act.

A network of university professors recently declared “universities are not military camps.” They stated:

We jointly declare that in order to bring Thailand out of the conflict … there is a need for the creation of a society that has tolerance towards differences of opinion, transparency in solving conflicts and a fair and accountable judicial system…. Such a society is one that is governed under a liberal democracy … and educational institutions have a direct role in creating a democratic society.

Those involved have been summoned by the dictatorship’s enforcers and are expected to explain themselves.

Sadly, university administrations work in the interests of the military barbarians.





Nitirat professor arrested

7 06 2014

Prachatai reports that Sawatree Suksri, who is a law lecturer from Thammasat University and a member of the Nitirat group, has been arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport. It is stated that she was arrested on Saturday at about 12.30 p.m., shortly after her plane had landed and as she returned to Thailand “from the United States on a US embassy study trip on human rights.”

Yes, the junta displays enough collective brainpower to power a 10-watt globe demonstrating its inability to even think through the consequences of such as move.

She was arrested at  Immigration and detained while the army was called to “take her away.”

Sawatree traveled to the “US before the coup took place on May 22 and planned to report to the military after her return. Sawatree had already informed the University about her intention to report to the military on Monday, June 9.”

Nitirat is on the dictatorship’s wanted list because it “has proposed an amendment of the lèse majesté law in line with human rights principles as well as a draft amnesty bill for political prisoners.” We guess such suggestions make them dangerous subversives in the eyes of the junta and its elite backers.