Athena-like Wisdom

With the Athena-like wisdom for which she is renowned, Electoral Commission member Sodsri Sattayatham has revealed that a party with the name ‘Socialist’ in its title has been banned, because “…a “socialist” party could be defined as a “communist” party, and the commission ruled that the name may violate democracy.” Does she know there is a difference between socialism and communism? Does she know that a number of Communist parties around the world participate happily in democratic elections and have in some cases (in India and Europe) represented their electors with distinction?
Presumably not because Khun Sodsri then equates anyone interested in establishing such a party with being a subversive: “Mrs Sodsri called on the national security agencies to monitor the activities of people who tried to set up a party under a socialist system with a different name.”
People who wonder why the left has failed to establish a viable political party in Thailand over the years might reflect upon the answer: every such attempt is suppressed by the establishment using laws the establishment itself creates and administers and supplementing this with violence when deemed necessary.

Parliamentary Privilege in Thailand Curtailed

MPs have limited parliamentary privilege in Thailand, it seems. The junta’s 2007 constitution seemed to offer the privilege of speaking freely in a parliamentary debate but apparently this does not apply to speeches which are broadcast (which, presumably, all of them are technically since all are recorded and someone sees them). Well, the Constitution Court has instructed the police to arrest one MP for allegedly criticizing one of its decisions (it is illegal to criticize court decisions and therefore something I would never do). The MP, a 26-year old woman, may have to postpone her wedding party this weekend. The Bangkok Post has this: “The Constitution Court has asked Bangkok police to charge Puea Thai MP for Chiang Rai Wisaradee Techatheerawat with contempt of court for comments made during last week’s censure debate.

Chavana Traimas, the court’s deputy secretary-general, yesterday said his office had asked police to press charges against Miss Wisaradee under articles 198 and 136 of the Criminal Code. Article 198 refers to criticisms of the court and the judges and Article 136 covers insults of court officials for actions made in the course of performing their duties.

”This action is to protect the respectability of the Constitution Court,” Mr Chavana said.

He quoted Miss Wisaradee as telling parliament on Friday she was forced to join the Puea Thai party because her former party, the People Power party (PPP), had been disbanded as a result of persecution by the Constitution Court.

The court dissolved the PPP last December after finding a party executive, Yongyuth Tiyapairat, had paid for votes ahead of the Dec 23, 2007, election.

As her speech was broadcast nationwide, the court felt her remarks had misled the public into believing the court had made an unfair ruling. The speech could result in insults and hatred being directed against the court as well as hurting its reputation, Mr Chavana said.

Miss Wisaradee, 26, said she would ask the legal division of her party to assist in her defence. She asked why the court was taking action against her alone when many other MPs had raised the same topic during the debate.”

So that would seem to make it official: there is nowhere in Thailand where a person, MP or otherwise, can speak freely without risk of prosecution.

Incidentally, the law was changed recently to make it possible for women to be officially referred to as ‘Ms’ rather than ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’ and the use here seems to me to be rather patronizing. Am I wrong?