What next?

4 12 2013

If you listen to some of the loops on the anti-government side – and we mean their tape/iPod seems to be on a loop – we are back somewhere in 2005, dressed in yellow shirts and demanding a political intervention by the monarchy.

When Suthep Thaugsuban was reported at The Nation and confirmed in the Bangkok Post, he allegedly “unveiled his plans” for his preferred “national reforms.” As the newspaper notes, this was the done “for the first time last night.” It is heady royalist stuff, and hardly deserves the description of “plan,” let alone “plans”:PAD

He said these would start with the setting up of a People’s Assembly, which would initially act as a legislative body to set up reform policies and promulgate necessary organic laws before selecting a prime minister.

That’s right, an unelected body will devise laws and policies and then select a premier. Nothing democratic in this effort to change the political rules and to remove any say from the electorate.

It gets worse for anyone who might hope that there had been political progress for all the deaths, injuries and mayhem. Not a bit from this royalist lot:

Under Article 7, if there is no provision in the Constitution, then the issue shall be decided in accordance with the Constitutional practice of a democratic regime with the King as head of state.

Yep, back to square one, where the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in 2005: this is exactly the same demand.

The report also notes that “Suthep did not provide a timeframe for the process…”. We imagine that they may take some time to work this out, trying to get it right this time, having failed to fix the political system in their interests in 2007-8

SuthepNonsense claims about “fair elections and anti-corruption efforts” are politically insulting, for “fair” is whatever the unelected royalists want. And their corruption will be okay, as it was under Suthep and Abhisit Vejjajiva’s regime.

Also in the category of protest plagiarism is the claim that a “non-politician would be selected as a prime minister to run an interim national government that would administer the reform policies…”. Like putting a privy councilor in the premier’s chair as in 2007?

And, the push for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to have “offices in all 77 provinces to accomplish the reforms” is sounding like a witch hunt in waiting.

So what is Suthep planning right now? Of course, he wants his celebrations for the king to be better than the government’s, trying to claim loyalty and political advantage. It seems clear that the king’s birthday was used to establish a very shaky “truce.” Shaky because the BBC is reporting continuing occupations and Suthep saying protests will continue.

For an assessment of Suthep’s movement that was written prior to the events  yesterday, and we wanted to mention yesterday but ran out of time, academic Kevin Hewison notes that:

The current demonstrators can only succeed with another dose of military, judicial or palace support. If they receive it, and Suthep seizes power, the political reality will be considerably more authoritarian than his populist rhetoric suggests. A political “cleansing” and dismantling the Thaksin regime suggests a chilling despotism rather than a new politics.

That remains true today as much as it was earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, also at The Nation, and at its biased best, is a rundown of what is says is a “range” of options. Actually, “range” usually spans all sides, but not at The Nation, where it simply cites anti-government “academics,” without bothering to mention, and consequently hiding, the connections between some of these ideologues and Suthep.

The Nation states: “Many options have been proposed by academics…”. That could be true, but The Nation just provides advice by Suthep’s supporters, saying: “There are two variations on how to prepare for the dissolution of Parliament.” Yes, they did say “range” but manage to come up with two, which are really one. No range at all!

Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket of the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) is quoted as saying “that His Majesty the King invoke Article 7 of the Constitution to select an interim government to replace Yingluck’s Cabinet to reform the country.”

Didn’t Suthep say that? Of course, NIDA is a hive of yellow-shirted academics, but couldn’t The Nation have explained that this “academic” is a former PAD stage performer with a long history of links with anti-Thaksin and anti Yingluck groups and schemers.

The Nation then reports that:

Surapon Nitikraipot, a former rector of Thammasat University, has offered a similar road map to Pichai’s but suggested that the Senate Speaker nominate a person to be the prime minister for His Majesty’s endorsement. The new prime minister would call an election as well as a referendum to establish the people’s assembly.

You might think that Surapol is just another serious academic, but that would be wrong. Surapol was an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly. He is a defender of the military junta’s 2007 constitution,  a member of a cabal of yellow-shirted academics, and an ideologue for the Kangaroo Constitutional Court.

And finally, The Nation reports NIDA’s Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who says that the way forward is to “enforce Article 3 of the Constitution to set up a ‘national government’ as a caretaker to lay out new political rules for the country and call for a new election.” Helpfully, it is explained that: “Article 3 states that sovereignty belongs to the Thai people and the King as head of state exercises power through Parliament, the government and the courts.”Fishwrap

Sombat’s royalist advice for kingly intervention is to be expected; he is a well-known yellow-shirted academic. Just a few days ago Sombat was described as an adviser to Suthep. Now wouldn’t you think The Nation might just mention this? Not a bit!

But it is even worse than this, at least as far as journalistic integrity is concerned. A few days ago the Bangkok Post reported this scene on Suthep’s protest stage:

Standing shoulder to shoulder with him on stage were core members of other anti-government groups including Green Politics coordinator Suriyasai Katasila, academic Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, leaders of the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT), the People’s Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism, the Dhamma Army, and The State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation.

Even in this report showing that Sombat is an activist with Suthep’s anti-government movement, we don’t understand why an extreme ideologue is considered an “academic.”

But back to the point: The Nation is so biased that it would even have dead fish trying to get out of it. Essentially, it is deceiving its readers.

We guess that there is going to be much more of this campaigning by disreputable ideologues masquerading as academics and journalists.

Royalist lawyer: ignore the constitution

10 06 2012

The Bangkok Post interviews yet another royalist academic lawyer on the developing judicial coup. Former Thammasat University rector Surapol Nitikraipot essentially argues that the words in the constitution count for little.

PPT won’t recount the whole sorry tale of yet another lawyer embarrassing himself, but we will cite the most revealing dissembling.

Surapol says the Constitutional Court “is vested with the power to admit petitions under Section 68 of the charter.” The initial reasoning seems to be “to prevent any repercussions on the higher institution.” That is royalist-speak for the monarchy. This claim sees the goalposts moved as the focus again cycles back to the monarchy rather than the constitution.

Seeing the king wheeling about in a military uniform certainly seems to have energized the ultra-royalists.

Surapol agrees that Article 68 “requires petitions seeking termination of such actions to be submitted to the attorney-general, who investigates the action.” He then adds: “Drafters of the [current] constitution did not wish for the Constitution Court to initiate the investigation process itself.”

So far he’s right. He’s still right when he states: “If the legislature drafts a law which contravenes the constitution, the Constitution Court reserves the power to declare such a law a violation of the charter.”

Then the caveats come like a rain-drenched landslide:

However, the court said it admitted the petitions out of concern the attorney-general might proceed slowly. If the court had not taken in the petitions, it could lead to far-reaching political ramifications and other problems.

No evidence for any of that or for the Court not waiting to see the legislation (for which there are specific actions defined in the basic law) or for the Attorney-General (in accord with the Court’s own published procedures).

Then this:

The point to ponder is how one can interpret the letters and the spirit of the constitution. What had the constitution drafters intended when they wrote the charter? Or do we need to stick to the charter writers’ intentions in interpreting laws despite the changing circumstances?

Yes, forget what the nation’s basic law says and try to interpret unspoken intentions. In effect he says forget the constitution and do something that “interprets” mysteries of the recent past and somehow lever that into the Court’s interpretation of that history.

Most interestingly, Surapol then states:

In this case, the Constitution Court interpreted [the law governing its authority] differently from the way the charter writers had intended, which was for the petitions to be filed with the attorney-general.

Huh? The current legal eagles at the Court have chucked out the constitution and the charter writers’ intentions!

But, the Court can go ahead anyway. Why? Just because they can. And not only do they have the power to do something not in the constitution or even intended by those who drafted the constitution – all military-royalists flunkies. Now that it has done it, Surapol reckons they can do it any time they like. Parliament becomes meaningless, rendering elections a kind of modern curiosity.

Then another but; it involves invoking the king (as all good royalists do when challenged):

If parliament votes to pass the bill in its third reading, it will be proposed to His Majesty the King for endorsement.

Imagine the King choosing between not proceeding further in light of the court’s injunction and signing the bill approved by parliament.

The parliament should avoid subjecting the head of state to a situation where he will be burdened with considering an issue which could invite extreme social and political conflicts.

Well, that makes all the difference! The king is head of state and he has constitutional rights and duties, but please don’t get him to exercise those legal provisions, Again, ditch the constitution!

We know that Surapol is making this up as any legal moron can look at the constitution and see that there are provisions that come into play after legislation is approved and before it goes to the king (Article 154).

The Surapol concludes with this observation that clearly indicates why he is proposing illeagal and unconstitutional interventions: “The decision-making power in parliament rests with the House speaker, his deputies and a person above the parliament who lives overseas.” He mans Thaksin Shinawatra.

In other words, the Puea Thai Party (and the People’s Power Party before them) going to and winning an election based on rolling back elements of the junta’s charter counts for nothing for the royalists are continuing their judicial battle with Thaksin.

Surapol is remarkable. He shows he knows the law and constitution and he just tosses it aside. Truly, truly amazing to see royalist lawyers and judges destroying their own system and laws.

Updated: Appointing royalists to consider constitutional (non-)amendment

23 02 2012

In a remarkable report at The Nation, it is reported that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed royalists – including some associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy – to “study how to improve the Constitution…”. In the language of the British, this is a stitch-up. Some background first.

The alleged “experts” are appointed “because the ombudsmen were required by Article 244 of the Constitution to evaluate charter enforcement and provide advice on how to improve the charter.”  The appropriate section of the military’s 2007 constitution states:

Section 244. The Ombudsmen have the powers and duties as follows: … (3) to monitor, evaluate and prepare recommendations on the compliance with the Constitution including considerations for amendment of the Constitution as deemed necessary;

In other words, the Ombudsmen is not required to do this, as reported. A decision must be taken to do it. PPT guesses that this decision also relates to Section 245, which states:

The Ombudsmen may submit a case to the Constitutional Court or Administrative Court in the following cases:

(1) if the provisions of any law begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the organic law on rules and procedure of the Constitutional Court;

 (2) if rules, orders or actions of any person under section 244 (1) (a) begs the question of the constitutionality or legality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the Act on Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Courts Procedure.

We likewise guess that these appointments are part of a process that will seek to invalidate amendments to the constitution. The Bangkok Post reports: “A source at the Office of the Ombudsman said the advisory board was set up out of concern the charter’s chapter covering the monarchy may be amended.” PPT would be staggered if that were the case.

The “experts” appointed are:

Noranit Settabut, who was the chairman of the military junta-appointed 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA)

Wissanu Krua-ngarm (sometimes Krea-ngam), a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra, but one of those who jumped ship and went to the support of the royalists. Since then, he has accrued a remarkable number of company directorships, perhaps as his reward. He was mentioned in a Wikileaks cable: “Prem had signaled his intentions and intimidated two cabinet members (Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam) into resigning in June. Pansak claimed that Prem had sent a clear signal by asking their view on whether constitutional provisions allowing the King to take on a political role might be invoked in the event of Thaksin’s death.”

Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of King Prajadipok’s Institute and mentioned in the above cable and this one too.On his resignation as Thaksin’s government spokesman, Bowornsak spent some time in an elite temple and wrote articles extolling the wonders of monarchy and defending lese majeste as a process of rehabilitation to the royalist elite. PPT had this description of him, mentioning his record of political promiscuity.

Surapol Nitikraipot is a former rector of Thammasat University and an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of National Institute of Development Administration. Sombat is one of the most compromised of academics, having been harshly critical of red shirts, supportive of all post-coup governments and of yellow shirts. He has been solidly conservative, even rallying his fellow academics at NIDA to oppose those he sees as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, including outspoken and baseless  attacks on the current government and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Back in April 2010, he was one of the academics signing a statement opposing red shirts, along with card-carrying royalists and PAD supporters Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Charas Suwanmala and Pramote Nakhonthap. In June 2010, Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed Sombat to head a constitutional review panel. That panel did nothing and sank into oblivion except for recommending a change to the system of appointing the prime minister taht was meanrt to help the Democrat Party. Even the Democrat Party didn’t jump on that totally biased suggestion.

Thiraphat Serirangsan, former PM’s Office minister in the Surayud Chulanont government appointed by the military junta in 2006. He got his position mainly through his close relationship with self-proclaimed coup planner and well-known royalist and political manipulator Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.

Charas Suwanmala is a former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, former member of the of the military junta-appointed 2007 CDA and one of the best-know yellow-shirted academics in Thailand. In August 2010 he supported moves to prevent students demonstrating against Abhisit. Charas is a well-known and staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April 2010 he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed at that rally.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat, is generally considered reasonably independent, having been critical of the Puea Thai Party and red shirts prior to the last election and also critical of the military’s 2007 constitution.

The only two who are relatively unknown quantities, at least to PPT, are Kittisak Porakati, a law lecturer of Thammasat and Supachai Yavaprabhas, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. If readers know more about them, we’d be pleased to update this post.

That means that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed seven well-known and outspoken partisan “experts,” making a mockery of the claim that “the opinions of the advisers of the ombudsman would be neutral…”. Rather, the Ombudsman appears partisan and biased.

The first meeting of this sub-committee of the PAD Ombudsman is due to be held next week. Don’t expect anything other than partisan politicking from this lot.

You get the general idea of where all this is going in The Nation, where it is reported that the political allies of the panel of “experts” is opposed to any suggestion of rewriting a constitution that was written at the behest of a military junta and is meant to be able to be revised in parliament. Indeed, the current government has won two elections (as People’s Power Party and then as Puea Thai) where it promised amendments as part of its policies.

The Nation reports that the PAD has “issued a statement opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a way that would “allow Thailand to come under the grip of parliamentary dictatorship by evil political capitalism”. That’s all PADspeak for Thaksin and its disdain for voters and elections that produce outcomes it hates. It has called a rally for 10 March.

Meanwhile, a group of 50 senators is also opposed. This is the usual suspects in the Senate, mostly appointed under junta-established rules in the 2007 constitution. They include Surajit Chiravet, Somjet Boonthanom, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul. Rosana was clear: she reckoned the whole process of constitutional amendment was “to whitewash the wrongdoing of a certain former prime minister.”Like other royalists, they see rewriting the charter as “tantamount to overthrowing the 2007 Constitution.”

PAD’s words were only slightly different, viewing the “ruling coalition’s amendment as an attempt to overthrow the charter, which is an illegal act against the Constitution.” Of course, all of them simply ignore the actual provisions in the constitution for changing it in Section 291. But it isn’t the constitution they seek to “defend” but the system of elite rule under the monarchy, emblazoned in the junta’s constitution. Expect others from the anti-Thaksin alliance of the past few years to rejoin PAD and the opposition to constitutional reform.

Update: And just to remind readers that the opposition to the charter amendment is a yellow-shirt rallying point, the Democrat Party has made essentially the same points as PAD and the appointed senators in opposing change. The old team is very firmly reunited.