We all have a favourite mistranslation. Personally, I have always cherished ‘poitrine de culottes’ as an endearingly ingenuous rendition in French of ‘chest of drawers’. But mistranslations can have more serious consequences. In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then President of Iran, said that Israel ‘must be wiped off the map’. Cue a chorus of condemnation from all corners.
Ah, Ebbw Vale! That evocative name that conjures up the once biggest steelworks in Europe, the socialist ghosts of Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot, and the gross affront to common sense that is Welsh spelling. Then the steel industry collapsed and the coal mines were savaged by Thatcher’s anti-unionism. By the beginning of this century Ebbw Vale’s people suffered chronic unemployment and its land suffered the toxic legacy of its industrial heyday.
Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn has attempted to put the kibosh on plans by the UDD to monitor the upcoming referendum. That much was entirely predictable. What was more surprising was the legal justification that he gave for saying that they couldn’t do it. He is reported to have said that the Referendum Act did not expressly permit it. But saying so you can’t do something if the law doesn’t explicitly permit you to do it – that’s complete bullshit.
Latest draft constitution has a lot of issues for us to examine: an outsider PM, increasing the power of independent state organizations, unelected senators, a Constitution that can’t be amended, extending the duration of the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), a trick to dispose of PMs and Cabinet members, infinite amnesty for National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) members, and continued use of Article 44.
If Thais don’t vote for the draft constitution in the referendum, which constitution will we use? I say the interim 2014 Constitution will still be used. It won’t have been revoked. Then we will think what to do. People stare like I’ve gone mad for saying we use the 2014 Constitution as permanent. I’m not mad. We keep using it until someone revokes it. If the draft constitution comes out, it will be revoked.
In the draft constitution, there is no explicit mention of minorities or minority rights, making this constitution the only one in ASEAN to not have a provision for such rights.
Thai constitutional drafters, under the military regime, is including regulations on ‘hate speech’ in the new constitutional draft for the first time in Thai law. Kamnoon Sidhisaman, the spokesperson of the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), announced the results of the CDC meeting on freedom of expression that on top of mentioning vaguely that freedom of expression is guaranteed with the limitations of respect towards the rights of others, the committee has included ‘hate speech’ into the new draft constitution. Kamnoon said
Community rights groups have urged the junta not to ignore community rights and to reconsider their forest protection policies after nearly 1,800 families, most of them in Thailand’s North and Northeast, have been severely affected.
On the date of 10 December 2014, let us be happy on the commemoration of auspicious Universal Human Rights Day and Constitution Day of Thailand. Shan’t I be happy, I ask myself. I should, but my feeling is so strong that despite these great occasions and the promise of Prayuth Chan O-cha, Prime Minister and Chief of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to bring us happiness, I am not happy.