Out of Court

 14 January 2011

The uploading on to YouTube of the 17th set of videos from the ‘ohmygod3009’ source has followed the pattern set by previous clips over the past 4 months which purport to show corruption or improper behaviour inside the Constitutional Court.

As soon as the Ministry of Internet Censorship and Thought-police (MICT) was alerted to the existence of the videos (after a Phuea Thai Party press conference which played the material to a roomful of journalists at Parliament House), it immediately blocked the offending pages while officials were sent to seek a court order authorizing the Ministry to do this. By this time, the clips had gone viral and within hours updated CD compilations of all constitutional court videos were on sale at roadside vendors throughout Bangkok.

The Constitutional Court issued a statement condemning the illegal dissemination of confidential information concerning court business, while at the same time declaring that the content of the videos was doctored, fabricated and nothing like the truth. Speaking through a spokesperson who declined to identify herself but who was thought to be the daughter of a Constitutional Court judge, the Court vowed to search out the persons responsible for leaking the recordings of secret Court meetings, which never happened, and to prosecute them for contempt of court.

The government meanwhile repeated its claim that the dissemination of the video clips was the work of a widespread conspiracy to make the public mistakenly think that the Constitutional Court was open to outside interference, reached verdicts for improper reasons and was corrupt in its internal affairs. The ultimate aim, said a government source, was to undermine public confidence in the judiciary, government, military and other right-thinking agencies of the state. It blamed a network of unscrupulous anti-monarchist terrorists and ordered the police to find the malefactors immediately and punish them to the full extent of the law.

Observers continue to be baffled at the public indifference to the revelations contained in the video clips. While it must be accepted that the material may well not be authentic, the sheer weight of evidence, its internal consistency and the confirmation provided by other sources make a strong prima facie case, they say. However both the Court and the government have brushed aside calls for any sort of inquiry and continue to focus their attention on the alleged crimes of the whistleblowers.

This lack of public outrage is in fact referred to by the judges captured on the latest clips. They talk of ‘pushing the envelope’ in ‘getting away with stuff’. The idea which the meeting seemed to agree on was to make future judgements not so much in line with the written constitution, but with the ‘unwritten’ or ‘hidden’ constitution.

This concept is used to refer to the tacit ‘rules of the game’ that operate among the elite in the Thai power structure. Written constitutions, after all, come and go, and it has been argued that the primary organs of state rely on a more stable, though completely non-transparent, set of principles.

One of the discussants notes that threats of contempt of court seem to work extremely well in stifling debate, opening the way for the Court to decide cases more or less as they like, even if verdicts appear to contravene the written constitution. Any protest could quickly be suppressed.

It is feared that if these ideas are put into effect, the judiciary could develop a culture of impunity, somewhat similar to the security forces, such that court officials need have no fears of being held accountable for any wrong-doing

Further YouTube postings from a seemingly inexhaustible supply are expected in a couple of weeks.

Khun Voranai Vanijaka writes

Khun Voranai Vanijaka writes on the same subject from a different perspective and in a different vein :

An existential horror

If there's one thing I've learned from the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference, which finished in Bangkok yesterday..., it's that perhaps Thailand needs to be more like Indonesia...

Mr Jasin [Mohammad Jasin, vice-chair of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)] showed the conference a picture of televised court proceedings. Yes, the entire country gets to watch the court doing its job. How's that for transparency?

In Thailand? We have to smuggle video clips.

Mr Jasin also spoke of how ''dark forces'' are trying to limit the power of, or even do away with the KPK. On learning of this, the people of Indonesia took to the streets in droves in support of the KPK.

Why? Because the KPK has set an example, has given them hope, has shown it can be done, and so the people stood up.

The Thai people tried he same thing. They stood up too... they were mowed down.

"The Thai people tried he

"The Thai people tried he same thing. They stood up too... they were mowed down."

Indeed. The gatherings of the Red Shirts were in my experience, peaceful and largely good-natured if typified by a contempt for Abhisit and those for whose pig he is merely the lipstick. And look how it turned out under he baleful gaze of those who believe they were born to rule. Shameful, and likely to be remembered for some time I suspect.

Given the events as they turned out in April/May, I somehow doubt the Red Shirts will want to make the same mistake again, come the day. A friend of mine expressed the opinion a while ago, that all Thailand's anti-democratic problems could be resolved with 100 carefully-placed bullets.

I am increasingly sure he was right, but worryingly, I am increasingly sure that those 100 bullets will be needed.

Rob I am against violence as

Rob I am against violence as a means of attaining goals. Having said that, what you say is probably true. Not that I suggest the 100 bullet solution be applied but rather, that the powers that be have so utterly taken control and are so blatantly ready to apply whatever ruthless means it takes to keep control I wonder what other ways there are?

Sadly, I believe had the red shirt/UDD movement kept Saeh Daen out of the picture the military would not have been able to concoct the terrorist/anti-monarchst threat. As least not as easily or quickly as it was done.

To be noted is the almost total silence from the international community, in particular the USA which has had its hands in Thai politics for many decades and refuses to defend the same rights it claims to wage wars for.

I weep for Thailand and especially the people, the tens of millions eking out a living so the Bangkokian elites can play.

Regarding the previous mention of the red shirts as a peaceful movement I agree, as I was among them almost on a daily basis. I also was among the police and soldiers and was pretty sure a solution was in the air until the very last days.

Only in the end, when the red shirts were being cornered and started becoming aware of the trickery behind the "peace offer" (which would have seen their leaders arrested and under threat of state execution, as openly stated in the MSM) did they become defensive and take a stand ready for the onslaught which came.

Thailand's current top general two or three weeks ago in a press conference stated the US embassy was kept informed for a long time before the 2006 putsch and that the US agreed it was necessary to get rid of Taksin.

Considering the role the US has played around the world, one can almost see a text-book example of how to create an imaginary terrorist group out of peaceful, poor working class citizens for the sake of trampling them, if need be, to death.

I have little doubt the US played a role in helping the Thai government/military along in their deceptions. I would say the US embassy was kept abreast at every single moment and was in agreement about the "necessity" of getting rid of whatever opposition their might be to the military and government, both of which are in a sense the products of US politics anyway.

The ANU website links to a

The ANU website links to a set of ABC soundbytes with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Cut the questions and stitch together Suu Kyi's answers... which, since there is no Suu Kyi in Thailand... since the Thai junta still keeps Da Torpedo in jail... must serve as each red shirt's rallying cry to him/herself...

Aung San Suu Kyi

We all have to work together. Unity is strength and we've got to find new ways to make our movement wider. We have broadened our movement and we've got to find new people and new ways in support of our dream.

We would like to engage with the military junta. We would like to engage with everybody who we think would help the democratic process.

I don't know whether I shall be arrested again or not. This is not in my department. I am not the one who goes around arresting people so I am not in a position to say whether this one or that one including myself might be arrested but I hope not because there is so much that I want to do.

I have to do what I feel that my duty dictates.

The problems in this country should be resolved through dialogue, not through force of arms.

I do not agree that violence can help in any way. That is certainly playing to the strength of the military... they have the guns, the tanks, the bombs... they are without heart or soul and like to kill Thais; they do it as often as they can and spend the rest of the time threatening to.

It must be non-violent, people-power not only in Burma and in Thailand but in the USA and in China and everywhere around the world where an oppressive government is grinding the people down. Anything else, any resort to violence for a 'quick solution' is doomed to prolong, not shorten the struggle, and to build skills useless in its aftermath in any case. Non-violent struggle - unlike Wonder Bread - actually builds strong political bodies in 8... or 12, or 99 ways!

As to the massacre at Ratchaprasong... I think the 'leaders' of the Red Shirt movement betrayed the red shirts, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the last moment. I note that all except Jatuporn are on the run or behind bars. He's my candidate for Judas.

All the more reason for each one of us to lead ourselves to the promised land.

I am a great fan of Chang

I am a great fan of Chang Noi. Chang Noi has missed the last four deadlines at The Nation. I'm afraid that Chang Noi is done.

I have gathered together as complete a collection as I can of Chang Noi's column's, April 1 1996 through September 20 2010 for my own reference at the link above. Any of you are welcome to savor the insight and clear writing of Chang Noi at that link as well.

I have no idea if Chang Noi is 'down' because the little elephant is just tired... 14 years and 9 months is quite a run... or because of the reactionary, I assume toxic, milieu at The Nation.

If it is the latter, perhaps Chang Noi might be respond favorably to an invitation to take up bi-weekly residence at prachatai.com/english?

I know I'd be very happy to read Chang Noi again, and especially so at Prachatai.

jfl, thanks for the Chang Noi

jfl, thanks for the Chang Noi compilation. I, too, have been waiting for the next Chang Noi column since September 20. I hope this absence isn't permanent.

The nearly 15 years of essays

The nearly 15 years of essays on Thailand by Chang Noi are priceless, in my opinion. You can download the whole collection if you'd like.

I encourage you and others to do so. When geocities went down, and the original Chang Noi collection went with it, we nearly lost this irreplaceable public resource.

The thanks are due to Chang Noi, of course; not to myself.

Thank you, Chang Noi.

Snoh saved by legal

Snoh saved by legal technicality

The Supreme Court on Friday cited the statutory limitations to
dismiss a graft case involving Pracharaj Party leader Snoh Thienthong.

The National Anti Corruption Commission sued Snoh for alleged
corruption related to the Alpine land scam when he was the interior
minister in 1996.

The 9-member NACC made an unanimous decision to try Snoh in February.

Another gangster walks in the Corrupt Kingdom of Thailand.

Business as usual via the Thai® Double Standard. Patent pending

Supported By Sympathetic Men

Supported By Sympathetic Men Wielding Gavels!

New! Thai® Double Standard Improved!

Backed By Brutal Men Leveling Loaded Guns!

Thailand Court Clears Ruling Party of Election Fraud

The Election Commission’s petition to dissolve the party was “unlawful because they took more than 15 days to file the complaint to the court,” Constitutional Court judge Udomsak Nitimontree said in a live television broadcast.

Abhisit took power in a December 2008 parliamentary vote after a court disbanded the pro-Thaksin ruling party for election fraud under rules written in the post-coup constitution.

“The tension won’t be as high as earlier this year because the government has the upper hand working in unity with the military to handle any protests,” said Somjai Phagaphasvivat, a lecturer at Bangkok’s Thammasat University.