Vampires Don’t Need No Stinking Evidence

I don’t suppose the people involved will thank me for saying so but since the print demise of the old Night Owl, the Database section in the Bangkok Post has become the sharpest and most accurate part of that newspaper. Today’s edition (it is in the printed section Wednesday – not sure when it was first on the website) has a very sensible approach to the ‘evidence’ of the eight wolves and one lamb the other day:

“If you can’t say nee sua paa jorake, put it this way: Out of the frying pan into the fire; telecoms firms apart from the state duopoly definitely thought of fleeing the tiger only to meet the crocodile in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Thaksin assets; the Court’s finding that Shin Corp of Shingapore (and previously Thailand) profited from cabinet decisions during the Thaksin years appeared to have emboldened the government into claiming that your ToT and your CAT Telecom “lost” billions, and a total rewrite of concession and other agreements could be in the offing; that would only take Thai telecoms back into the 20th century, result in high new charges for consumers and make 3G mobile phone service a fantasy instead of a dream; legally, of course, putting a phone in the hands of every Thai has theoretically cost the state-owned firms a lot – except that the state-owned firms were (and are) incapable of meeting the needs of the country at any price; every other telecom firm has certainly profited in the past two decades, but then so have consumers; a return to strict regulations would mean a return to the days when it was illegal to own a modem or a Telex machine, and the only legal way to communicate was to rent equipment from the state.”

I am reminded by the period after 9/19 when pathetic little Surayud was posing as Prime Minister and made some particularly stupid announcements (presumably made by the higher order vampires) that caused the market to crash and then had to come before the world in his too big uniform (he is only 18 inches high) with his dirty little face all scrunched up and say ‘sorry, we don’t understand emoconomicals and please don’t crash our stock market.’

 Vampires cannot run modern economies properly. It’s time to move on.

Wolf with a Conscience

It turns out that not all of the junta-approved judges were willing to believe the ‘evidence’ used in the [it is of course illegal to criticise the verdict of a court in Thailand, which will tell you all you need to know about the system] ‘controversial’ decision to find former PM Thaksin Shinawatra ‘guilty’ of ‘abuse of power’ under ‘controversial’ new laws introduced by the PAD and approved by well-known friends of the poor Generals Jackboots, Dracula and Robber Baron.

Congratulations to ML Rithithep Devakula for standing up for the rule of law [it is of course illegal to criticise a court decision in Thailand and I would never dream of doing so].

The story, in the Nation, is somewhat amusingly included in the ‘politics’ section.

Even the Pretence of Justice Is Being Set Aside

Even the pretence of justice is being set aside. According to the Bangkok Post:

“Attorney-general Chulasingh Vasantasing said on Wednesday he will immediately ask the Supreme Court to issue an order seizing 46.37 billion baht of Thaksin Shinawatra’s assets, as set out in Friday’s verdict, even though the ousted prime minister’s lawyers say they will provide fresh evidence justifying a new trial within the requisite 30 days.

Mr Chulasingh said he personally believed Thaksin would not have any new evidence which could lead the court to change its verdict.

All parties had already revealed all they had to the court during the trial.”

Perhaps Khun Chulasingh should just declare the appeals system outlawed altogether – or at least for people who are considered to be challenging the status quo. Or perhaps we should just let the high officials of the land decide the cases depending on their great wisdom and learning. Rule of evidence? No need. Rule of law? Last seen in this country around 2006, September 19th. Rule of justice? Justice? This is Thailand. 

Frightful Hobgoblins

There is a frightful hobgoblin stalking the sois and paddy fields of Thailand. Is it the hobgoblin of continued, intensified repression or will it be the hobgoblin of freedom? We will not know for certain tomorrow if it is the latter but we will be likely to be able to tell if it is the former.

Although I am told that the ‘guys upstairs’ (quite literally considering where I work most of the rime) will be working throughout the night seeking a peaceful or at least acceptable solution, the people I have spoken to generally seem to think that a certain General Secret Hand, facing death shortly, is ready to ignite the flames of violence once more in his often spoken desire to have, as his legacy, a boot stamping on the face of the people of Isan forever.

Alternatively: the hobgoblin might be the spirit of whoever it is that is represented by the black car I saw parked up along Ladprao on my way home tonight (not that far from the Chok Chai Si Police Station, in fact). It was decorated with three pictures (paintings I suppose) on the side I passed by: Bob Marley, Osama Bin Laden and a Swastika (I’m sure it wasn’t the reverse version that is a Buddhist symbol) – on the front wing was a plain red flag displayed like a diplomatic flag would be. What kind of person would decorate a car in this way? (I am not, by the way, making this up).

‘Tis the Season …

… for the most extraordinary legal decisions – probably a message that the judges really are going to sort everything out …: here.

Chaturon on Justice in Thailand

As more court verdicts are due to be announced in due course, it might be helpful to consider how the judicial system in Thailand has been transformed since September 19th, 2006. Here are some observations by Chaturon Chaisang from his book Thai Democracy in Crisis: 2y Truths (p.174) on the issue of banning political party executives:

“As for politicians who held office in previous governments and were accused of various crimes which mostly concerned corruption, the crucial point is that the judicial process has been distorted. The Assets Examination Committee was set up by the junta, and comprised biased individuals who vowed outright to deal with a person or group of persons whom they targeted. And the proceedings of the committee were not in line with the practice of the Criminal Code in many aspects.

Then the cases were forwarded to the National Counter Corruption Committee. The problem of illegitimacy arose again, as the NCCC was also appointed by the junta, and was composed of individuals who harboured hatred towards the accused. All this is a distortion of the judicial process, preventing the accused from receiving justice.”

Of course, Khun Chaturon is one of those affected by these decisions since he is one of the 111 Thai Rak Thai executives banned as a result of the retroactive legislation introduced by the junta. Readers may judge for themselves whether this might have affected his opinions.

The issue of retroactive legislation against a set of people issued by an unaccountable body that seized power by threat of violence and then retroactively pardoned itself for an illegal act* is one which is also worth considering.

* Plotting the 2006 coup took place while the 1997 Constitution was in force and was, therefore, illegal. The junta abolished that Constitution once their tanks were in place and then declared an amnesty for all those involved.

Poisonous Fruit

I followed the usual route today – up or down Ladprao Road to the Ratchada junction and then ready to turn right: the traffic board showed green so I was looking forward to a swift trip – but then, Ratchada Road was pretty jammed up – quite why this should be was not immediately obvious but it soon became clear that there was a demonstration outside of the court. Well, to be more accurate, there were preparations for a demonstration. The red-shirted pro-democracy movement had brought their continuing protests to the court, which is sitting on some cases and speedily rushing through others. Preparations were well under way: over about one hundred metres of the pavement there were numerous stalls set up for food and convenience goods, including a variety of red shirts and jackets. There was also a mobile toilet parked up and vans loaded with loudspeakers – of course, plenty of police were hanging around as well, waiting to see how things panned out, no doubt.

It looked like a substantial and well-organised operation established by serious people. The demonstrations are likely to continue at least until the 26th and, if rumours about what the Secret Hand has decided the judges should do are true, then beyond that as well. The Abhisit regime has responded plans to put up to 35,000 extra troops and police in the streets to suppress political dissent and establishing security bases in 38 majority pro-democracy provinces. It is easy to interpret this to mean that everyone knows what the decision will be on the 26th and there is a great likelihood of violence erupting as a result (of course, it is illegal to criticise any judicial decision and I would not dream of doing so, I merely pass on what other people are saying with good intentions).

If the Secret Hand has decided to take all the money and is planning for violence or else calculating that he can use violence for his own end, then is it possible for violence to be avoided? It seems sadly unlikely. The Secret Hand sees the ‘Thaksin Regime’ as a kind of Maoist alternative government which must be eradicated root and branch to return the Land of Smiles to the status quo ante. However insane (or just childish) this idea is (and it is part of Chaturon Chaisang’s argument in Thai Democracy in Crisis: 27 Truths), years of ideological state apparatus activity persuading the public that problems are caused by ill-intentioned people not systems are bearing their ugly, poisonous fruit.