Protecting the judiciary

26 07 2015

It has become increasingly common for the judiciary to “protect” itself. This “protection” appears to have originated as the red shirt movement developed and became critical of the obvious double standards displayed by the judiciary following the 2006 palace-military coup.

The judiciary has been manipulated to become an important arm of the royalist elite in maintaining its rule, taking on some of the work of the king as he allocated it more responsibility in dealing with the elite’s perception of threats from electoral politics.

A recent example of this self-protective behavior is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a “one-year prison term, without suspension, imposed on Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit and former party MP Kiat-udom Menasawat for defaming former Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh.”

Wasan’s defamation lawsuit “said they wrongfully accused him during a press conference on June 8, 2010, of acting inappropriately and lacking judicial ethics and impartiality.” We have more on Wasan’s bias below.

Earlier, the Criminal Court had “found the pair guilty of defamation and sentenced them to one year in prison, suspended, and fined them 50,000 baht.” Wasan and several of his royalist buddies were enraged and the Appeals Court “lifted the suspension, ruling the defendants had intentionally insulted the judge and discredited the judiciary, despite being well-educated and holding political positions. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.”

As if to emphasize double standards, the “Supreme Court overruled an Appeals Court ruling and acquitted former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban … of defaming Prommin Letsuridej, a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party in 2006. The court also upheld the prior acquittal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Ong-art Klampaibul of the Democrat Party on similar charges.”

Back to Wasan. He was, until 2013, a politicized judge at the head of a politicized Constitutional Court. PPT has had several posts on his activities. The Constitutional Court has been irretrievably biased in favor of the royalist elite. This court has been shown to be corrupt and colluded with members of the elite, including in the palace. The Constitutional Court repeatedly acted as the judicial arm of the royalist elite, most notably in its actions to dissolve various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties and politicians and in its protection of favored parties and groups. Its actions to stymie legal constitutional change have been some of the most biased and ludicrous cases ever seen in Thailand.

The court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past decade and Wasan has even stated the biases of the court:

At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties [the 2008 judicial coup]. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

Wasan did more than any other judge to politicize the Constitutional Court. His politicized career included strong connections with  the Democrat Party, having interned with  are long. The report states the royal leader of the early Democrat Party, Seni Pramoj.

As a Supreme Court judge, it was Wasan who dished out the two-year imprisonment term on Thaksin for allegedly assisting his wife in the Ratchada land purchase deal.

He also played a role in stripping red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan of his parliamentary election victory by ruling that his incarceration on bogus charges meant he was ineligible.

Was he defamed? Not if it is considered that the defendants told the truth about a corrupt and biased judge. Yet the judiciary wants to protect its capacity for politicized interventions.





More on tainted judge

20 07 2013

At The Nation there’s more on retiring royalist judge and Constitutional Court President Wasan Soypisudh. It adds a little background to our earlier post and confirms Wasan’s role as a political judge.

The Nation refers to the politically tainted Wasan as “colourful, courageous and controversial.” The Nation would use such terms for a man who has done more than most to further undermine what was already a judiciary for the rich and powerful.

Wasan is described as “a brilliant law student at Thammasat University” who “embarked on his career in the judiciary, holding numerous positions…”.

Wasan’s connections with the Democrat Party are long. The report states:

When he had newly graduated, a senior person took him to see the former PM and ex-Democrat Party boss Seni Pramoj, and he became an intern at Seni’s law firm.

Wasan’s last position, before jumping into the Constitutional Court in May 2008, was as “president of the Supreme Court’s labour division, from which he retired at the age of 60.” Of course, the labor court is one of the least active courts in Thailand and is usually no more than a rubber stamp for employers and the state.

As a Supreme Court judge, it was Wasan “who handed down a two-year imprisonment term on former PM Thaksin Shinawatra for assisting his wife in the Ratchada land purchase deal.”

More recently, Wasan has opposed allowing parliament its constitutional right to rewrite the 2007 charter without a referendum. He asserted that changing the constitution can amount to a threat to the political system.

Wasan also played a role in stripping red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan of his parliamentary election victory by ruling that his incarceration on bogus charges meant he was ineligible.

The Nation’s final sentence confused us:

Wasan’s resignation will not affect the composition of the court as there are still eight judges left and future rulings will likely remain the same.

We assume that this means the Constitutional Court will remain a conservative and politicized court.





White Paper on the politicized judiciary

18 07 2013

As regular readers will know, PPT has repeatedly pointed to the politicized activism of some elements of the judiciary. In fact, only yesterday, we noted the impending departure from the Constitutional Court of its President Wasan Soypisudh. That post included several links showing the biased politics of that court and Wasan’s activist role.

In recent days, Thaksin Shinawatra lawyer Robert Amsterdam has produced another of his White Papers, this time entitled The Judicial Attack on Thailand’s Democracy. Democrat Party Games. Also available here. This is a timely publication that summarizes and explains the concerted use of elements of the judiciary to oppose elected pro-Thaksin governments and to destroy pro-Thaksin parties and movements.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The White Paper is introduced thus:

The purpose of this White Paper is to alert the international community to an ongoing assault—carried out largely under the standard of the Democrat Party of Thailand, but engineered by a broader coalition of groups hostile to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra—designed to remove a democratically elected government by illegal means.

It is added:

This White Paper describes the efforts by the anti-Thaksin coalition to undermine the results of the 2011 election, and it calls upon the international community to throw its full-throated support behind the Yingluck [Shinawatra] government as it strives to advance true democracy in Thailand, while preventing a repeat of April/May 2010.

Referring to the need to break “a cycle of lawless coups and killings that dates back decades,” the White Paper is introduced as documenting the use of “every conceivable method to remove a duly elected government, primarily through an extra-parliamentary campaign of street action and judicial manipulation.”

While this paper is likely to be dismissed by royalists and other yellow-hued opponents of Thaksin, the issue of judicialization raised in the White Paper speak to the nature of Thailand’s democracy. It should be of concern to all that the judiciary lacks independence and takes political sides. This inevitably means that the judiciary becomes a site of bitter political contestation that takes rule of law off the table.





Tainted judge going

17 07 2013

In an important yet brief report, The Nation explains that Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh is resigning “as both president and judge from August 1.” In resigning, Wasan said:

his resignation was in accordance with an agreement by judges when he was elected as president – that he would stay in the post for not more than two years to complete some goals to manage the administration system and finish some cases.

He says he has now completed all his work.

Wasan has been a politicized judge at the head of a politicized court. PPT has had several posts on his activities. In earlier posts, PPT noted that the Constitutional Court is irretrievably biased in favor of the royalist elite. We have shown that this court is corrupt and only too happy to collude with members of that elite, including in the palace. The Constitutional Court has repeatedly acted the judicial arm of the royalist elite, most notably in its actions to dissolved various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties and politicians and in its protection of favored parties and groups. Its actions to stymie legal constitutional change have been some of the most biased and ludicrous cases ever seen in Thailand.

The court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past decade and Wasan has even stated the biases of the court:

WasanAt a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties [the 2008 judicial coup]. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

To the very end, Wasan was acting politically, telling reporters that he delayed his resignation due to “the court was being pressured by the red shirts.” The Bangkok Post notes that the Court did not wish to be seen to be “caving in to pressure from the protesters.”

The resignation of a judge who has presided over the politicization of the Constitutional Court should be cause for some relief, tempered by the knowledge that the Constitutional Court judges have a nine-year term that began in May 2008.





Updated: Court battle gains some heat

27 04 2013

A few days ago, PPT wrote that we were heartened that the politicized judges at the royalist Constitutional Court were being challenged. Then we noted that these judges deserved to be challenged for their political bias, corruption and, above all, for their seeming inability to comprehend the wording of the constitution they are meant to rule on. Repeatedly, this set of judges have delivered rulings based on their interpretation of what they believe the royalist-military junta and government would have preferred but didn’t actually write into their constitution.

It now seems that the battle with the kangaroo court is heating up. At The Nation it is reported that the government’s “Pheu Thai Party is planning to hold 10 major rallies … in a move to seek public support for its bid to amend the Constitution and push through the Amnesty Bill.” The focus on the bid to change the constitution is a direct challenge to the Constitutional Court. The first rally was due to be held today in Udon Thani followed by another in Khon Kaen tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a red shirt protest has been underway for several days, challenging the judges. The Nation reports that these red shirts have been calling for the judges to quit. So this group is calling for impeachment and seeking to have the “Budget Bureau stop paying their salaries.” These red shirts “vowed to continue protesting to pressure the judges to quit or have them find another way out.” There were some minor clashes when some of the red shirts sought to enter the Court’s grounds.

Constitution Court judge Jarun Pukdithanakul opined: “I do not know what is wrong with our country. It is as if boxers are battling referees.” This is the same Jaran who filed a libel case against red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan and who defended the corruption in the Court shown in leaked videos, with him as one of the allegedly corrupt judges. Rather than boxers fighting the referees, the analogy might be that the referees are delivering decisions that have no relationship to the rules, selecting victors according to the bribes they have received.

And when “Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has given a moral support to the Constitutional Court judges, urging them not to be perturbed by the protest,” the politicization of the judges is readily apparent.

Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh, who has featured at PPT for comments that are silly, stupid and always biased, has had the rally recorded and, according to The Nation, has had the Court file “a police complaint against the four red shirts who have been leading the rally outside the court complex, accusing them of defamation and inciting unrest.” The court has accused four red shirt leaders “of violating Articles 136 of the Penal Code in the speeches they delivered in front of some 200 red-shirt demonstrators.”

At the same time, Democrat Party MP Watchara Petthong has “written to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra asking her to provide 24-hour protection for the judges. He said the protection was necessary because the protesters threatened to harm the judges and burn down the courts.”

Finally, and also at The Nation, Ukrit Mongkolnavin, chairman of the Independent National Rule of Law Commission, has “urged the Constitutional Court judges to review their role in order to avoid a political crisis and also called on the red shirts to not opt for violence in their campaign to remove the court’s judges.”

Interestingly, Ukrit said “his commission agreed that the judges’ decision went beyond their jurisdiction.”

Parinya Thewanarumitkul of Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, said “the judges should review their ruling on provision 291 of the charter amendment by going beyond their authority as indicated in the Constitution.”

Proving that it is not just judges who are dumb, “red-shirt leader Pongpisit Kongsena, who is spearheading a campaign to oust the Constitutional Court judges, said the group would file a complaint with the police, accusing former Constitutional Court president Chat Chonlaworn of lese majeste.” Using lese majeste is simply a stupidity that deserves to be hosed out like horse manure. It directs attention away from the issue.

Update: According to a report in the Bangkok Post, the four red shirts who have been defamation and inciting unrest are fighting back, urging civil disobedience and citing the Court’s lack of legitimacy, while urging a “capture” of the judges in “citizen’s arrests.” The heat is on high.





The unelected and anti-democratic oppose reform

6 04 2013

A few days ago, at The Nation, it was reported that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “urged the Constitution Court to provide a way out of the constitutional impasse, saying the country cannot move forward if the highest law is not amended to ensure justice, democratic principle and bring about international confidence in the country’s legal system.” This came after she learned that the unelected junta spawn in the Senate, the mostly unelected 40 yellow-hued royalists, were making yet another effort to prevent change to the constitution according to the very rules established by that junta’s flunkies.

Worse, the Court agreed to hear their legal fairy tale. But this is no surprise as this is a  politicized and corrupt court.

These 40 senators have opposed every reform effort by each elected Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government in recent years and they see the Constitutional Court as their allies. This time they are asking the (kangaroo) court for a “ruling to suspend the amendment of Article 68 and Article 237 of the Constitution.”

The junta spawn have also “warned that coalition MPs and pro-government senators might be removed from office for enacting a bill to amend Article 68 of the Constitution.” Somehow Senator Paiboon Nititawan, an unelected senator – of course he is! – was reported in The Nation as threatening that “if the Constitutional Court ruled that an amendment to Article 68 was unconstitutional, MPs and senators who voted for the amendment, might be regarded as having violated the charter.”

None of this makes any sense to PPT if we read the constitution itself, which clearly states at Section 191 that the constitution can be amended by a majority of both houses of parliament. What the royalists and unelected charge is that an amendment of certain sections of the junta’s constitution will infringe the part of that section which states: “A motion for amendment which has the effect of changing the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State or changing the form of State shall be prohibited.” Of course, amending Section 68 doesn’t infringe on this and nor does amending Section 237.

However, the junta spawn are not engaged in logical or legal debate, but in political conservatives and undemocratic chicanery. As we show below, at least one constitutional court judge -its dim-witted president – is already agreeing with the royalists.

Pichit Chuenban, a Puea Thai Party “legal expert … said Constitutional Court judges themselves would face a criminal probe for violating the charter by accepting the complaint against Somsak and the 311 other defendants” who the junta spawn and a bunch of other royalist groups planned to charge for some trumped-up “crime.”  Other Puea Thai parliamentarians threatened tit-for-tat retaliation against the Constitutional Court, showing just how silly the legal situation has become.

Pheu Thai MP from Ubon Ratchathani, Somkid Chueakong, said he and his colleague Worachai Hema would file a complaint with the police at Thung Song Hong Police Station today against the Constitutional Court for abusing its power. It was interfering in the legislative branch’s power while it should not have accepted to rule in the case filed by Somchai.

Entirely on cue, the People’s Alliance for Democracy has “threatened to rally against the proposed charter changes, saying they were aimed at protecting the vested interests of politicians.” PAD has lawyers at work to “seek more legal venues to bring offenders to justice…”.

Wasan

Wasan

And isn’t it just a bit too coincidental that t every time something like this happens, the king exhorts judges to continue to defend the nation. He’s done it again.

Meanwhile, we are not surprised that the apparently dull and exceptionally biased Constitutional Court President is uninformed about (seemingly) everything?

At The Nation Wasan Soypisudh is cited as demanding that the “coalition government to heed minority opinions…”, something the government has been doing since its landslide election victory in July 2011. Wasan implied that the elected government had been “corrupted by power” and may “use its majority to force through legal amendments in an attempt to perpetuate its hold on power.” In other words, this judge has already made his decision on the case! And he seems not to care one iota that everyone knows this. His statements are a travesty for the judiciary in Thailand, which sinks further into a swamp of political bilge each time Wasan opens his mouth.

Wasan then shows that he is ignorant of history when he is cited as babbling that:

Adolf Hitler, Germany’s dictatorial leader of the 1930s and ’40s, as an example of one who abused a popular majority to perpetuate his power, which ultimately led to disaster for Germany. After Hitler’s party won an election, the Constitutional Court president said, it abused its majority by amending laws to preserve power, after which the German leader led his country to defeat in World War II.

The Nazis never won an electoral majority or the majority of parliamentary seats in any election, except in November 1933, “All opposition parties had been banned by this time, and voters were presented with a single list containing Nazis and 22 non-party ‘guests’ of the Nazi Party.” That situation also applied in 1936 and 1938 when the Nazis held “elections.” Additionally, Hitler never won a majority in a presidential election.

Wasan is then reported as saying that “Article 68 of Thailand’s Constitution seeks to protect the Constitutional Monarchy system, and was also modelled on the German charter…”. We suppose that Wasan knows that Germany is a republic?

Wasan also said something about the courts needing to be”non-partisan agencies in order to mediate disputes,” and yet his own words appear to condemn him as partisan in the extreme. He added to this clear partisanship by reciting a PAD version of recent political history.

Wasan seems clear on what his job is: to support the unelected and undemocratic in Thailand.





Updated: The constitutional court (again)

15 03 2013

The Nation has a brief report quoting the boss of the Constitutional Court Wasan Soypisudh who reveals the court’s role in the 2008 judicial coup:

WasanAt a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

This seems a frank admission that the court’s decision-making is not about the law but is politicized. Part of the reason Wasant feels he can make such statements that show the judicial system as deeply flawed is that he feels that the court’s main role is in maintaining the status quo.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has an excellent post on this story, linking it to a Wikileaks cable.





Ask the Constitutional Court

14 01 2013

The Red Shirts blog states that the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has now submitted a letter to the Constitutional Court, seeking clarification on the court’s earlier decisions and pronouncements on how the government can or cannot amend the constitution.

According to the report, the court’s July 2012 ruling was “that amending the constitution does not pose a threat to the monarchy…”. The oddity is that this even required a ruling; but it was a bunch of mad monarchists making the claim that changing the military junta-dictated constitution amounted to republicanism.

But the Court also threw one of its large royalist spanners in the works when it “suggested that the government hold a referendum regarding the amendments.” Because this is a suggestion, no one understands if it has any legal basis or merit. But, hey, don’t mess with the Constitutional Court or they’ll dissolve you party and ban you or even have you jailed!

In its letter, the UDD asks the following:

1. Does the suggestion from the Court that the government hold a referendum regarding constitutional amendments constitute advice or an order? What law or article of the Constitution was consulted by the Court in this decision?

2. Does the Court disagree with a parliamentary vote on the Constitutional amendments? If so, what law or article of the Constitution was consulted by the Court in this decision?

RejectedIn the circumstances of Thailand’s recent politics and its remarkable judicialization, these seem like reasonable questions. However, as we know, even before receiving them, a court spokesman had rejected the idea of clarifying anything and the very moment these questions were received, the deeply politicized court president Wasan Soypisudh had rejected the notion that the court would clarify its not-a-ruling-but-a-suggestion intervention, which he thinks is “clear.”





On being dumb

11 01 2013

As PPT noted in an earlier post, we noted: Responding to a red shirt call for the Constitutional Court refused to clarify “whether there is an obligation to hold a national referendum before proceeding with changes to the charter,” the court’s mouthpiece said the court wouldn’t respond (yes, we know, a statement of refusing to respond is a response…).

Wasan

Wasan

As if it feels the need to (not) respond again at The Nation, it is reported that the court’s president Wasan Soypisudh has stated that it “is in no way obliged to provide clarifications on its ruling on charter amendment…”.

He said the red shirts “had the right to file a petition according to the civil code.” He explained that: “A judiciary committee will hold a meeting to look into the petition and see if those who question the ruling truly do not understand or pretend not to understand or are just pretending to be dumb…”. Yes, this is the President of the august Constitutional Court using these terms. Wasan is clearly agitated that any mortal being should ask the court to clarify one of its arguably dubious and politicized rulings.

In addition, when accusing others of being dummies, we would point out that, based on earlier reports, Wasan himself might hold up his hand.

Wasan also expressed a desire for the court to be protected: “It is good if we are merged into the Supreme Court, because then anybody who insults the court will go to jail…”.

The arrogance of royalist flunkies knows few bounds.





The Constitutional Court affirms it is politically engaged and biased

16 12 2012

Continuing our Groundhog Day royalist political strategy, we turn to the judiciary. As we noted in our post on Anand  Panyarachun and the “policy corruption/this government is the worst ever” hocus pocus, PPT has posted on the op-ed coaching manual by Voranai Vanijaka pointed out, where he pointed out that the weapons that can be used against the elected government are tanks, streets and judges, and the the use of the mainstream media, conveniently, the president of the Constitutional Court has come out barking.

It is as if we are making this up at PPT, but it is the royalists, seemingly stunned by the quick crash and burn of Pitak Siam that has quickly turned to the other tools in its kit of anti-elected government workshop. Immediately after that event we noted the judiciary stepping up, but the story on Kangaroo Constitutional Court president at the Bangkok Post is simply remarkable.

Like Anand, Wasan Soypisudh believes the country has no future. Wasan’s elitist position is that “Thai people mostly don’t understand their own duties, don’t respect other people’s opinions. Democracy must be engaged with rational discussion, not the dictatorship of the majority…”. Wasan_Soypisudh

Essentially, this rather dull man thinks he, as a member of the judiciary that is meant to oversee the constitution – including the current military junta instituted one – is failing to comprehend its provisions. He reckons that Thais are pretty darn stupid and don’t think about democracy. It seems he fails to understand what has been happening for the past several years and the determination of people to make their votes count, even when defeated by royalists, judiciary and military.

Actually, it seems that it is Wasant who is pretty darn stupid, for he claims to be traveling around the country asking average people pretty darn stupid questions. The report lists several questions Wasan claims to have asked people in the Northeast.  Most questions apparently caused people to be stumped or confused. That’s because most of the questions simply make no sense.

Yet Wasan interprets these responses as evidence of “the ignorance of some Thai people about democracy, the rule of law and justice.” In fact, it is Wasan who is confused, He thinks people “mistakenly believe that if they win a general election and command the majority of seats in parliament, then they can do absolutely anything they please.” This is bizarre when it is Wasan and his unelected ilk who actually believe they can do whatever they want. For example Wasan’s court has ignored the constitution to do whatever it wants.

And we’ll simply ignore Wasan’s complete ignorance of international experience.

Unsurprisingly, Wasan took aim at “populist policies which people can become addicted to and which require a huge budget year after year, eventually leading to overwhelming public debt and causing the country to go bankrupt.” Anand was probably listening, although even he may have gagged at Wasan’s collapse of the Eurozone crisis with populism and government employment.

His final point expresses his elitist hatred of politicians: “This parliament is full of so many political animals swearing at each other.” But the saviors are  judges, just like Wasan: “The difference between politicians and judges is that we hold judges to higher moral and ethical standards.”

What he means is that the Constitutional Court is biased, corrupt and the royalist’s political tool. PPT has posted a lot on this, so we won’t link to them all. Instead, interested readers can follow this tag.








%d bloggers like this: