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. 

I Am Not Making This Up

Things you would hesitate before making up for fear of being accused of gross exaggeration:

Today, Thailand’s reputation (genuine reputation, that is) slid again as it was announced as having declined to 84th in the league tables of corrupt nations – it has been sliding since the disastrous 2006 military coup.

Also today, the leader of the 2006 military coup General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, instead of being sentenced to the lengthy prison sentence he so richly deserves, has announced he is entering politics as the head of the new Matuphum party (with money partly looted from the country after the 2006 military coup).  

Also on the same day, one of the principal beneficiaries of the 2006 military coup, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has announced plans to give substantial salary and allowances increases during an economic crisis with millions unemployed.

How Long Should We Remember the Crimes of the Past?

The alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk has been extradited to Germany to face trial as accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jewish people during WWII and his American citizenship has been revoked. In Hong Kong, pro-democracy MPs were outraged when it was claimed that most Chinese people had moved on from the Tiananmen Square massacre (with the 20th anniversary due to be marked in a few days). Meanwhile, celebrity scientist Pornthip Rojanasunant is to accompany navy divers to investigate the cargo containers at the bottom of the sea off Chonburi and which are said by some to be stuffed full of human remains. It has been claimed that the bodies were hidden there by the military after the massacres following the 1992 coup.

How long should people remember the crimes of the past? For how long should people he held responsible?

Many countries have statutes of limitations covering various offences, primarily on the basis that it discourages the over lengthy prolongation of court cases against people (who are or at least should be, after all, innocent until proven guilty). These statutes vary in length and are generally not applicable in very serious crimes or acts of violence.

We have seen recently the problems that can be caused when justice is not served, no matter how far ago the original acts may have taken place. At a wedding in Turkey, dozens of people were murdered apparently, it is said, as a result of a long-standing vendetta between families (I have no idea who may or may not be guilty of any of these events). The same level of resentment and hatred might build up in Thai people, it is reasonable to assume, who have not received justice from the numerous massacres perpetrated by the Thai military over the last few decades. Perhaps the same level of resentment and rage might not occur in Thailand for ‘cultural’ factors – the different nature of the state-mandated official religion and appropriate forms of behaviour, for example.

Even so, there is a lot of unhappiness that has festered so much throughout the nation that it is not surprising if it manifests itself from time to time. Unfortunately, there is not much chance of the people culpable ever permitting the law to be changed so that they might be held accountable for their crimes.

The most recent military coup was in 2006.

Thai Democracy and Rule of Law on a Knife Edge

I cannot see anything good coming out of this. Army chief General Anupong Paojinda has called upon the government to resign – let us hope Khun Somchai will remain resolute because dissolving parliament now would lead to chaos and, it seems likely, increased bloodshed on the streets. Looks like 18% of government budget plus being one of the most powerful people in the country is not enough for General Anupong to do his duty.

PM Somchai is back in the country, apparently and has gone to Chiang Mai. He was summoned for a meeting with HM the King but it will take him a while to get there, presumably. There is a bit of a lull at the moment – perhaps people are awaiting news of the meeting? I cannot imagine anything other than a personal meeting being suitable.

By the time I post again, I expect the PAD will be responsible for more deaths and misery.

What could happen? Impossible to imagine the PAD thugs just going home. Will some police/military unit loyal to the democratically-elected government clear out the PAD after tourists have been evacuated? Possible. Will nothing happen apart from a stand-off with a few bombs/beatings? Also possible?

Eventually the government is likely to have to call more elections, assuming that the recent trend of judicial decisions continues and the ruling parties are dissolved on some pretest (verdicts are due ‘in a few days or a few weeks’). The likelihood of being able to amend the Junta’s Constitution prior to that is receding.

Whatever happens, it will be worst for the poor and the workers, as most people well know.

Violet Elizabeth Abhisit

Well, we made it through another weekend without a military coup or widespread violence. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is talking about patience and seeing out the problems caused by the anti-democracy mob, which is besieging Government House. Around 10,000 mob members (according to the BBC, the Thai media claim many more than that) advanced on Government House over the weekend and, apparently, ‘easily outwitted’ the police and their road blocks – outwitting the Thai police, eh, they said it couldn’t be done. Perhaps this is one reason why.

As a sop to the mob and their supporters in the Senate, now of course stuffed with junta appointees, Khun Samak has assented to a frankly inappropriate series of censure motions against the government, which has had just four months to sort out the mess left by the disastrous junta period and the obstruction of parliament. The motions will presumably by led by Violet Elizabeth Abhisit (if he can drag himself out of bed long enough), who has threatened to scream and scream and scream until he gets his way. VE Abhisit, a workshy quisling, has many things in common with the mob: both are the results of privileged backgrounds with nothing but contempt for the democratic process or the votes of the millions of rural poor who have repeatedly rejected the policy-free Democrat Party. Second, rather than create a new party politics with policies people might want to vote for, VE Abhisit would prefer to bring down democracy in Thailand, which he proved with his shameful decision to boycott the election of 2006.

Despite the fact that a court (it is illegal to criticize Thai court decisions) banned more than one hundred leading politicians from the Thai Rak Thai Party and dissolved it altogether, the Democrats were once again heavily defeated by the newly-formed People’s Power Party, which continued the pro-poor policies of Thai Rak Thai. In response, the Democrats, a once powerful party with a proud history, have done nothing. Fifty of its MPs will be involved in the no confidence debate which it has no chance of winning. One and a half days of debate will feature the Democrats moaning about supposed mistakes by the PM and seven members of the Cabinet instead of doing their proper job of articulating an alternative set of policies and persuading people to vote for them.

Who Benefits from Attacks on Democracy?

In a shameful show of opportunism, workshy quisling Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, is calling for a no confidence motion in parliament. Abhisit, who has done nothing to articulate any coherent set of policies or ideology for his once proud party, is best known for his extraordinary privileged background and his decision not to contest the 2006 election. Knowing how few people would vote for his incoherent, disorganized party, Abhisit decided to boycott the election and made some obviously false excuses about the power of the elected government and how it was all terribly unfair for people like him. This extraordinary show of his sense of entitlement opened the way for the military coup later in the year.

Now Abhisit has joined with the movement trying to stir up the idea that the country is facing political and economic crisis so as to create the conditions for another coup – or so at least it seems. The Democrat Party had wanted the government to open a general debate in which it could bring a list of complaints about government performance, without of course any suggestion of what should be done. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej quite rightly rejected this since there is a real need for government to continue to work its way through a number of vital issues – the government is struggling to deal with complex issues that look to be beyond its capability anyway. It has been in office for just four months and has also had to deal with the legacy of the disastrous junta government. It is not necessary to be a fan of democratically elected prime minister Samak to realise that the opposition Democrats may have some unspoken agenda and means of achieving it.

Irrespective of the success of the Opposition forcing a censure motion on the PM and various members of the Cabinet, the Upper House is also set to hold some kind of session assessing government performance. The Senate is now stuffed full of junta cronies and other right wing interests as a result of the new constitution forced through by the junta under conditions of martial law.

Who benefits from the continued period of instability?