It was, I think, Socrates who drew the link between the corrupt state and the number of lawyers and doctors therein: “It is a sign of a very bad and shameful education if in a city there is a great need for doctors and lawyers, not only by inferior people and craftsmen, but also by free people who have been allegedly educated.”
Here, in Thailand, the university entrance exams are arranged such that it is those who receive the very best marks who are able to enter medical school (and also helps explain why there are so many medical doctors in politics), while we have many judges, good proportions of whom were appointed during the recent junta period. This by way of background to the observation that, this morning, I went past one of the various courts of Bangkok and noticed a larger than usual number of people hanging around outside, suggesting something of a big case going on: well, this is probably from a different country but there is news that a judgment has been received. The first part is entirely predictable ‘Court clears Democrats’ and that part can be just cut and pasted. The grounds for the judgment are interesting though:
“Prommin alleged that the three Democrats defamed him and the Thai Rak Thai by holding a press conference on March 16 2006, saying three Thai Rak Thai executives had committed election frauds by hiring small parties to contest April 2 2006 election.
But the court ruled that the Democrats held the press conference in good faith to announce the information in had learned.
The court said the Democrats simply wanted to inform the public of attempts to damage the country’s democracy so they had not committed libel as charged.”
So it seems, based on the way this is being reported (which may not be accurate, given the Nation’s legendary inaccuracy and its occasional problems with English), that the court now decides libel cases not on what was said (or written) but on the intention of the people saying it – so, if you are judged to be a good person or to be generally well-intentioned towards the country, you are free to say anything you like no matter how inaccurate or harmful to other people (the Foreign Secretary will be pleased, he has been doing this anyway for some time).