A few months ago, my mother-in-law received official documents from a legal firm outlining charges against her for illegally keeping some unspecified property on state land (needless to say, she was wholly innocent of this and we never found out what property or what land was supposed to be involved exactly). Apparently, a case would be brought before the courts and the punishment could be severe – cue, therefore, a great deal of stress, anxiety, tears before bedtime and so forth. It took a fair amount of going from one police station to another and submitting various documents before the lawyers concerned accepted that they had somehow lit upon the wrong person (was it a case of identity theft or simply incompetence?). Finally, a letter arrived saying that the case never went before any court, that no proceedings were begun and that, in effect, it never existed. While this brought about some relief, as can be imagined, it does raise certain questions about the quality of legal proceedings here. Which brings me to the saplings case – various offices are now blaming each other for bringing forward obviously unsubstantiated charges (it always appeared that there was no meaningful evidence but it might have been that the state had some kind of secret evidence it was going to produce at some stage). It is of course the Thai way to try to blame one or a few individuals when things like this happen rather than acknowledging the systemic issues that are really involved. The purpose of the case (like the other ‘corrupt policy’ cases such as the lottery issue) was obviously a pretext for justifying the disgraceful 2006 military coup by pretending that it was about corruption rather than its real cause. Will this pretext now be quietly dropped and consigned to the ‘it never existed’ category of court cases? I think it was Plato who said that the physical and spiritual character of a state can be judged by its doctors and lawyers.