- 09 Sep, 2008
Hosting a TV cooking show = GUILTY!
Staging a coup and tearing up a constitution = NO PROBLEM!
Predictable -with a court stacked last year by Khor Mor Chor & Democrat Party cronies…No wonder Thaksin has to stay away with such a disgraceful and corrupt judiciary
On one hand, you stage a coup. So by definition, you’re out of law.
On the other hand, a rule was broken.
Now, of course, we can argue : the conflict of interests is rather… small.
But, do you want to abide by the law, or not ?
It’s time for the thai politicians to respect the law, and nothing but the law.
The PAD should do it. And Samak too.
The decision of the Court is technical. They’re right.
The decision of the (same) Court in 2001 in favor of Thaksin was not technical (assets concealment case). But political (we can’t ban the man who won a landslide elections a few months earlier, let’s give him a chance).
And a that time, Thaksin was guilty to the bone (he put hundred of millions THB of assets in his employees names… Nominees).
So should we complain ?
Thaksin’s ethical lapses were legendary Jim Taylor, but you are in denial as usual. Thaksin went into self-exile once his wife Potjaman was convicted of tax evasion Jim Taylor. And Thaksin immediately knew his ‘honest mistakes’ plea won’t sway the Thai courts the next time around.
Perhaps Thaksin’s crocodile tears could convince the UK courts to grant him the asylum he seeks. . . who knows? That should cheer you up Jim Taylor.
Gosh, guess now PPP won’t try to rewrite the constitution, gut the legal system, rewrite the laws, and stack all government ministries with loyal functionaries to facilitate the triumphant return of their beloved leader as if he was Julius Caesar in the year 45 BC, as if he had never broke the law.
Ahhh. We can breathe easier now. Despite the hysterical screaming of the foreign media as the fever reached its peak, the patient (the body politic) has just passed through the final fever, is now on the path to recovery, and will soon be standing on his feet again. Amen.
Thailand is fast becoming the laughingstock of the world, not that the powers that be in Thailand care. Today’s headline, “Thai PM forced to resign for hosting cooking show”. Pathetic.
With all due respect to ThaiCrisis, “a rule was broken” – are you serious? Just about every aspect of this country’s legal system is broken. Almost every rule of law that can be broken has been broken by the whole bunch. And for the court to all of sudden step in and proclaim itself to be an honest arbiter of the law is simply unbelievable.
Anyone who believes this was a “technical” decision is dreaming. The technical is totally political here, now, 100%. In case ThaiCrisis hasn’t noticed, the powers that are behind PAD control the courts and most other institutions. They are simply doing what they always do, that is, use whatever means possible to retain power. Until that underlying dynamic is exposed to the light of day and reformed so that durable democratic institutions are in place, any decision from these courts lacks moral authority and legitimacy. Especially nakedly transparent political moves like this. I mean even the most uninformed person can see this one a mile away…kind of like the 70/30 New Politics scam, or is 50/50 now.
I hope they reappoint Samak as PM as fast as possible this time, and every other time this kangaroo system tries to hijack the votes of the majority of citizens of Thailand.
I am not a legal expert. But it is hard not to see this court decision out of the political context. Laws are impersonal but people who resort to and apply them are not immune from prejudice and bias. For those who disagree with the extra-electoral means pursued by the PAD and its supporters to rid of their political opponents, me included, this is a part of their strategies (or stunts?). What pains me is the impression that the judiciary has let itself to be used (if not willingly playing along).
Unlike Thaicrisis, I think Andrew makes a keen comparison. On a broad ‘fairness’ scale, the harm that the 2006 coup inflicted upon Thailand’s democratic institutions (no matter how abstract it sounds) outweighs Samak’s cooking show.
Such a legal farce…
The judges needed a lot of intellectual gymnastics to “construe” a free-lance cooking show as a “business partnership” (3 votes; freelance journalists for newspapers will be interested to learn that they are in fact “business partners” of the owners of the publications they write for). The other six judges thought that Samak was merely an employee (strange that there can be such a difference in interpretation in such a simple case). The Thai word is luk chang, which implies a contract, either for a specified duration or unlimited, with a clearly defined boss (nai chang), who will give orders to his subordinate. Who will ever think that Samak’s cooking show was of that kind?
And, sure, this decision has prevented Samak from passing innumerable decisions as prime minister that benefited either himself (as business partner in the cooking show) or his supposed nai chang, who would issue orders to Samak to misuse his position for his, the nai chang’s, benefit!
Ah finally an opportunity for PMSamak to step down gracefully…
PPP will reappoint Samak and he has a chance to do what his sweared enemy, ParPrem did in 1988 “Thankyou, I have had enough” and ride into the sunset… He is probably aware that there’s a high likelihood he will not survive the defamation case which the reading is scheduled for the end of the month (although the case can still be appealed?). Contrary to what foriegners think, the judiciary are now doing their job commendably – Prasong Soonsiri, PMThaksin’s nemesis (and a PAD supporter), has just been convicted of libel in the appeals court:
“Prasong’s libel conviction confirmed with suspended jail term for two years”
And in step PMBanharn for round 2 – so the rumours go?!
And Thailand will be the “laughing stock of the world” all over again? But the Thais (whether pro-, against or neutral) don’t seem to care as a former prime minister famously said, “The UN is not my father” – “The world is not my father” in this case… Frankly, I’ll be laughing too if PMBanharn makes a comeback and politics swing from extreme inflexibility to ‘Slippery on Skates’…
-> Bob. I know that every day, every freaking minute, rules are broken in Thailand. That’s the very identity of this country if I may say…
But, at one point, we need to start somewhere, right ? I mean to respect laws and regulations.
The decision against Pojaman for instance was strikening. First time we had such decision against important people.
And it was perfectly technical. And it was made with forms (Pojaman used all the tricks to postpone, delay, etc. the Court remained calm).
But I’m not naive. Eventually, of course it’s political.
But overall, I prefer a technical decision from a Court, rather than a coup d’etat by a bunch of lunatics in uniform. Even though the outcome could be the same.
And I would like to add that everybody (whatever your side) should be happy to see powerful people falling.
It’s refreshing. It’s necessary.
We were happy (I certainly was) in december when the generals received a big slap in their face with the elections.
Today, to see Samak falling for a tiny conflict of interests, makes me equally happy.
Nothing better than a good loss of face to calm down those arrogant thai politicians, and make them more civilized.
And let’s dream : after a few decisions like that… maybe… maybe the politicians will start to behave better.
We can always dream about it. 😉
Actually, this time I think the court made the correct choice.
They follow and judge base on the constitution, no matter if the justice of it is debatable.
Just as a punishment should not be impose retrospectively, if the rule is written very broad. Then all still have to abide by that stupid rule.
The one to be blame is those that written the rule, not the judge.
To jonfernquest :
I see you quote Cesar by now…
You definitely support ‘vox populi vox barbari’, don’t you? ;-p
How long before you set the selfish Italian Northern League as an example for the PAD to follow? So when are you ready to support a come back of Taksin who could contend for the best Thai equivalent of Berlusconi?
The photo on the left-hand side of the pro-military and pro-PAD newspaper The Nation’s website today showed two PAD members crying tears of joy to hear Samak had been disqualified. I want to see the reaction of the entire protesters when Samak is re-elected soon by the PPP MP’s.
My Thai friends also begin to believe that regular heavy rain in the evening for the few past days shows that Mother Nature is punishing PAD protesters for their undemocratic actions. Imagine no rain in Isan (Northeast) at all while rain (even hails) continue to pour in Bangkok.
Jeez, Thailand just became a republic…..
A Banana Republic.
Samak was not guilty of hosting a cooking show. He was guilty of getting paid large amounts of money for doing it, and the court even mentioned his attempts at covering up the evidence. But I guess ‘hosting a cooking show’ makes better headlines.
In what countries would it be ok for the leader to get paid millions for a second job? Its an abuse of privilege and would be a loop hole allowing bribes.
Thaicrisis says it is a false comparison to compare the illegality of a coup with the PM doing a couple of cooking shows. Well, yes, it is false. Under the 1997 constitution staging a coup was illegal (as it seems to be under the 2007 constitution). So overthrowing a country’s basic law is hardly a fair comparison. It’s scale is enormous. It is like comparing murder with jaywalking. Yes, sure, everyone should be under the law.
One of the unstated reasons (and not the only reason) for PAD and their opposing legal constitutional revision (under the 2007 constitution, so presumably Thaicrisis is supportive of the parliament amending the constituition??), is to prevent the amnesty for the coup makers being overturned.
Clear your heads of your prejudices, take a step back and consider what it says about PPP and it’s coalition partners if they reappoint as PM a person who has been stood down in these circumstances (including posible covering up evidence?) and such person is also subject to further court actions.
Are they worried people will run out of reasons to protest against them?
A sensible Samak/PPP/Coalition (wishful thinking!) would use this constitutional court case as an example of why the 2007 constitution is flawed.
Need I say it again 🙂 – they could then open up the constitution amendment process to consultation as a way of diffusing the current standoff.
I feel quite sick reading some of the comments. Most of the Constitutional judges were involved in drafting the current illicit constitution. Who selected them? a group including Abhisit leader of the Democrats and judges emplaced by Khor Mor Chor/coup leaders last year. The only real oppositional voice to this insanely biased group was Yongyut Tiyapairat chair of the Parliament from Chiangrai (PPP) and … guess what? he was mischievously red carded at the onset.
In the Constitutional Court most were involved directly in a committee set up by Khor Mor Chor in drafting the current dictatorial Constitution and thus a clear vested interest; people such as the unpleasant loud-mouthed anti-Thaksinite Jaran Pakdeetanakul (I have wrote about him in an earlier blog); Chat Cholaworn (head); Jaroon Intajaan- ex Supreme Court/Tribunal; Chalermpon Eik-uru (ex-Under Secretary for Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Khor Mor Chor illegal “Government”); Nurak Mapraneet (ex-Constitution Tribunal that ruled to disband TRT); Boosong Kulbuppha (involved in drafting current Constitution); Wasan Soiphisut (orginally clearing Thaksin- but then changing sides and for that reason accepted into the black gang and who recently judged Khunying Potjaman- with its equally predictable outcome); Suphot Kaimook (also ex-draft Consitutional Committee); Udomsak Nitimontri (ex-draft Consitutional Committee). All these people were appointed by the coup group in allegiance with the Democrat Party. Can you all imagine Abhisit’s role?? They are not neutral, and indeed quite biased with the clear agenda to establish the status quo ante (before Thaksin). Is this now clear to all readers??
“Laughingstock of the world”? Puhleeze. That implies that the rest of the world thinks about Thailand at all.
Ultimately the court may have handed everyone a chance to get out of the current situation. Samak can bow out semi-gracefully and save some face. PAD can declare some sort of victory and go home for the time being. PPP can put up a less unsavory character for PM or the coalition can put some one in place. And the country can start to move forward again.
Obviously the rifts are enormous and aren’t going to be healed overnight. But the current stalemate doesn’t appear to be breakable.
As to the 2006 coup, was Thailand really a democracy at the time of the coup? With Thaksin’s corruption infecting all levels of the government was it a functioning, actual democracy?
Jim Taylor: Unfortunately, it is becoming clearer that the only court decisions you will ever accept are as follows:
Thaksin (or pro Thaksin) : Not Guilty
anti Thaksin : Guilty
In your view, any other result must be biased!
(in that respect you have a lot in common with the PAD)
Nganadeelag you are probably right in a sense that I happen to believe Thaksin is innocent of all trumped up charges levied at him by the current judiciary- but at the very least a person should be innocent until proven guilty. So far there has been no evidence presented that show he has broken the law (unless you change the law and then make it retrospective and selective for one person only- which the current judiciary likes to do)…And…unless you consider the media tantamount to a proper, transparent and impartial judicial process?
Glenn, the BBC and CNN both ran the cooking story. They sort of mocked the idea of a PM being ousted in this way. A king of This is Thailand story. So they may not think much about Thiland, but they were laughing this time. One winner in this is Thaksin – his asylum case becomes easier with these kinds of decisions.
You really want to go over all the coup discussion again? Surely two years of blogging and considerable academic writing is enough. Your view is unlikely to change if that two years of discussion has you still wanting to debate whether Thailand was a “functioning democracy.” Dichotomies (either/or) have probably gone out the door long ago.
“I happen to believe Thaksin is innocent of all trumped up charges levied at him by the current judiciary- but at the very least a person should be innocent until proven guilty. So far there has been no evidence presented that show he has broken the law…”
Is running away the way to prove that innocence?
Why not fight the cases on their merits – IF everything is trumped up and there is no evidence, then surely the truth will come out, and Thaksin would be vindicated.
(The world will be watching his court cases, so a ‘kangaroo court’ is highly unlikely, and will surely be exposed if they were).
In reality Thaksin & Pojaman have been treated very leniently by the court system – being allowed to continually defer appearances, travel when on bail etc etc.
Did the drug war victims even get a chance at a day in court?
The joke started way before the cooking show verdict – electing a PM who is subject to unresolved court cases may not have been the start, but it has definitely contributed to making it a tragic comedy.
That said, Samak is not the only ugly politician around, and could have been the right man for the job at this point in time (unfortunately, he has chosen antagonism over consultation & reconciliation)
Seems Thailand’s political soap drama can go on forever unless those killjoys in fatigues will suddenly feel inclined to unplug the show. Samak Sundaravej, Thailand’s most famous proxy and cook, appear intent on coming back ala Arno. And those aging PAD vigilantes won’t give up because The Mastermind had escaped justice (to exile at UK) and behind the crime wave by the Reds.
Don’t touch that dial folks!
Jim Taylor: “I happen to believe Thaksin is innocent of all trumped up charges levied at him by the current judiciary”
“So far there has been no evidence presented that show he has broken the law…”
Given that Thaksin has fled to Great Britain, we obviously are not going to find this evidence presented in a court of law.
The well-documented evidence on the broader issues of using political power for personal gain (yet another court case) as presented in the paper “Hello and goodbye to the mobile phone” in Thai Capital after the 1997 crisis does not seem “trumped up” at all.
McCargo’s “Network Monarchy” paper clearly points out the likelihood of earlier decisions were biased in favour of Thaksin. Ideally, there would always be strict and precise legal decisions in accordance rules and laws as there was today, irrespective of how people feel about them. The king’s empowerment of the judiciary last year was a good development in Thai politics and this is just one manifestation of it.
Frankly, I don’t understand why people looking at all sides of an issue makes you “sick.”
Those who staged and were behind the coup in 2006 should be severely punished.
I have not seen any academic who is asking for resignation of Samak or mainstream media to demand for that.
What went wrong with this country?
I’m a good cook, I make a mean lamb stew… I won’t charge you money, but you’ll have to reimburse me 80,000 baht for my travel expenses. You see, good travel is hard to come by these days…..
“Those who staged and were behind the coup in 2006 should be severely punished.”
Most of the ground breaking legislation that has been coming into effect during the course of the year seems to have been passed by the coup-appointed NLA at the end of their tenure. Like the new broadcasting laws and banking laws that get tough with conflicts of interest.
Much seems to have come from old but good legislation that perhaps could never have passed under a democratically elected parliament where big money holds sway.
So one argument runs that the coup-makers in some deeper sense enabled this necessary ground breaking legislation.
(A bannana pie in the face for me for suggesting this, perhaps, but I have not seen any adequate discussion of where all that legislation at the end of the NLA’s tenure came from, seems like there are some resemblances to legislation during Anand’s tenure also).
I want to go back to the comments made regarding legality and rule of law. Suchit Bunbongkarn was just on ABC radio, saying that the rule of law is the issue in Samak’s case. He says that even a small amount of money is inappropriate for a public official. That’s fine and the enforcing of such would be a massive incentive for a clean up of the bureaucracy and representative politics. One would presume that those interested in a new politics would welcome such a move. But do they? Why does PAD use the law where it suits them but ignore it and break it when it doesn’t? Why do PAD and government opponents want a selective use of the law? I raised the constitution amendment above. It is legal for the parliament to change the law. But this is opposed. The rule of law is meant to imply equality before the law.
This is my third postings. Thank you for the lively debates and freedom of expression. My response to posting #29 is that it is too soon to commend the hasty passages of these laws. During Anand, many laws were passed to facilitate the process of financial liberalization. And see what that got us. I’m not saying that the laws passed by the end of December 2007 are bad. But it is doubtful that the NLA was free from biases (it might not be about money or material interest but about who would be the winners and losers of the law) or that it was entirely competent.
The new Bank of Thailand Act, even though granting a lot more independence to the Bank, begins to reveal some of the problematics. It is good that now politicians have to find a really damanging cause to fire Bank Governor but MOF still has the power to appoint the selection committees, which would go on to choose key decision-makers, including Bank Governor. The interesting thing is that the latest version of the draft was not the one proposed by Pridiyathorn when the coup-installed government came to office. That draft was revised again by the MOF (under Chalongphob) to retain some of the authority with the ministry and was quickly pushed through the NLA at the end of 2007.
In my opinion, laws are the reflection of the power distribution at the time. The NLA got to lay down some new rules of the game, some of which are groundbreaking. But there will be unexpected consequences as players adapt themselves to the new rules. At the end of the day, I still think the end (the passages of these laws, the implications of which remain to be seen) does not justify the means.
Well done Amata. Excellent points to make. I agree with you entirely. Too often Anand, who is little more than a propagandist for the palace these days, is painted as some kind of white knight. He wasn’t.
Sidh S. commented that Samak has an opportunity to step down gracefully…
That is an interesting re-reading of the events. Go back and look. Chai-Anan Samudavanija and 98 other public intellectuals (I recall the no. was 99, but I may be wrong) signed a petition to force him out in amongst a lot of campaigning for an elected PM. There were threats to reveal deep and dark secrets about Prem’s private life. Hardly graceful (and that is ignoring two failed coup attempts against the old man).
On another matter SS says that, “Contrary to what foriegners think, the judiciary are now doing their job commendably…” – why are foreigners singled out? Are you being racist-nationalist or just ignoring all those Thais who think there are problems with the judiciary?
And, the idea that a 7000 baht fine and a suspended sentence makes the courts look good seems a bit weak. Given that the courts have been especially zealous in protecting themselves, this is a wrist-slap. I’m sure Prasong puts tobacco in his pipe that costs more than this a week. What about all the other cases against PAD and pro-PAD persons brought by their opponents? What’s the progress on them? (That’s a real question as I seem to have lost track of them).
Thank you, Ed Norton, for your kind words. Speaking of Anand, (sorry moderator if this is not directly about constitutional madness) I just learned not too long ago that Anand is now the Siam Commercial Bank’s Chairman of the board. I can just imagine how intimidating the Revenue Department officials would be in their dealing with the Bank about the transfer of some of Thaksin’s frozen assets to the department.
I read from a Thai newspaper that one of the reasons the SCB did not want to release the money was that it was afraid that the transfer (Bt12 billion) would affect the bank’s liquidity. But I didn’t hear this reason repeated again. Can anyone help shed some light on this matter? Is it okay for a non-state bank to keep and manage frozen assets and make financial gains from them?
“…why are foreigners singled out? Are you being racist-nationalist or just ignoring all those Thais who think there are problems with the judiciary?”
That is ridiculous. Sidh is exactly right.
There is so so much paternalism in the all-knowing wise in democracy big white brother lecturing his little Asian brother because he really doesn’t understand democracy. Any paternalism on the part the Thai government bureaucracy pales in comparison to the paternalism of the western media and academics.
I am a foreigner and there is no doubt in my mind that about 99% of foreign public opinion keeps on repeating the same line of though over and over again without seeing the real issue which is the return of Thaksin.
Thaksin may have found a way to build absolute power but there was absolutely nothing democratic in a deeper sense about that absolute power or the way that it was obtained and used at all.
Thaksin played up to rural public opinion and brought out the absolute worst in these people.
I suggest you go back and take a good look at the extrajudicial executions that became common during his tenure, the acceptance of this heavy handed approach by the rural masses, and the blood lust that accompanied it. And then his ultra arrogant speeches. Even encouraging blood lust in monks. His heavy hand in the south has almost cost the Thais part of their country. Then the tendency to dish out public money to rural areas to support and build his power in off-balance sheet projects, is this democracy?
The missing Muslim lawyer, for example. Also, I will never forget how people were gunned down in cold blood without trial or arrest. Two in one night on the main street in Maesai while I ate dinner and checked up on my email at the internet cafe. Even came across one of the bodies on the way home. Then no investigation at all into 2000 murders with the standard boiler plate that it was the mafia cleaning house. Other cases surfaced during the coup appointed government, such as the police stolen car ring and the kidnapping for ransome by high level police in Mae Sot, investigations that only seem to happen when there isn’t a so-called democratically elected government.
He deserves exactly what he has got. It is as though the immune system of Thailand itself has rejected this demagogue. That elections were not the vehicle for his expulsion is really besides the point.
In economics as well as intellectually Thailand stands way over-exposed to the west and this is what is tearing it apart.
Thank you jonfernquest for your words but you miss the point, which is that there are many Thais who think there are problems with the judiciary? So it is misplaced racism or misplaced nationalism or wrong.
Should we take it as a positive development that, according to the latest reports, at least some in PPP might be concerned about re-appointing Samak as PM?
I wonder if that concern is for the right reasons, or for self preservation reasons?
Anyone else see any irony in the fugitive in London probably having the final say on whether the evidence fabricating cook is re-appointed?
It’s a good test on which they are more interested in:
Reasonable compromise & reconciliation, or victory.
>I suggest you go back and take a good look at the extrajudicial executions that became common during his tenure, the acceptance of this heavy handed approach by the rural masses, and the blood lust that accompanied it.
-My recollection is that there was a general acceptance of the drug war killings by more or less all Thais, including, judging by his public statement, one at the highest level. . You might find that arguable, but to continue the point, clearheaded unequivocal criticism came more from those arrogant, misunderstanding foreigners – press, human rights groups – than it did from Thai opinion-makers.
-The bigger point, though, concerns the implication that ‘acceptance’ and ‘blood lust’ were cultivated or fanned by Thaksin.
Aren’t we talking about adults who have pretty much gone through most of their socialization process by the time Thaksin took office? The weaknesses of Thai society – and I’m thinking pretty much of the educational system – clearly pre-date Thaksin. (As for extra-judicial killings, you know as well as I do that they are practically a national tradition.)
As for “his ultra arrogant speeches…” Arrogant, so what? He’s not a particularly inspiring speaker, and IMHO, not an inflammatory one. In a demagoguery contest, he’d finish dead last at a PAD rally.
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