Monday review: Yingluck case ends, National Strategic Plan ‘strongly’ rejected

After the Criminal Court handed a five year jail term against Yingluck, the junta issued an organic law that forces her to appeal the case in person. Meanwhile, the junta’s National Strategic Plan has faced the ‘strongest’ rejection. 
 
Last week, the prosecution against Yingluck over the Rice Pledging Scheme (RPS) came to an end after the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions read its verdict on 27 September. 
 
The court gave Yingluck five years in prison without suspension. She was charged with neglect of duty, leading to large-scale corruption committed by other officials in her government. The court also issued a warrant for her arrest since she had jumped bail.
 
The verdict was originally scheduled to be read on 25 August but had to be postponed when Yingluck fled the country just before the judgement day. Her whereabouts remain unconfirmed and the foreign media and the ruling junta gave conflicting answers. 
 
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told the media last week that Yingluck was in Dubai and promised that she will take no further part in Thai politics. Meanwhile, CNN confirmed that she was in the UK seeking asylum. 
 
Back in Thailand, the junta last week moved on from ensuring “justice” for Yingluck and back to its so-called “roadmap to democracy”. On 28 September, the Organic Act on Procedure of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions came into effect. This requires suspects to appear in person to lodge an appeal.
 
The Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) Meechai Ruchuphan also confirmed to the media that Yingluck has to show up at the court in order to appeal her case. He added that even if she came back and served her jail sentence, she will be barred from politics for life according to the 2017 Charter.
 
The Organic Act on the Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions is one of the 10 organic laws that the CDC has to draft according to the 2017 Constitution. Before the general election, the CDC has to finish the drafts of four crucial organic acts related to elections: those on general elections, the Election Commission, the selection of senators, and political parties.
 
However, only the organic acts on the Election Commission and on political parties have so far been drafted, raising doubts whether a general election can be held in 2018 as planned in the junta’s “roadmap to democracy.”
 
Apart from holding elections, the junta promised to draft a National Strategic Plan before it steps down from power. According to the constitution, this plan will be a guideline that future civilian governments have to follow for the next 20 years. 
 
The junta also appointed a National Strategy Committee (NSC) to monitor the civilian administration. Most of its members are either the heads of the security branches, representatives of big corporations or people who have worked closely with the junta.
 
Last week, the Office of the Prime Minister published the names of members of NSC subcommittees who will design the National Strategic Plan in various fields. One member that became talk of the town is Chadchart Sittipunt, former Transportation Minister in the Yingluck government.
 
He was subsequently criticised for betraying his old party, given that the ruling junta staged a coup against Yingluck in 2014. However, Chadchart later posted on his Facebook page that he will not accept the junta’s offer, because he does not understand the junta’s National Strategy clearly enough.
 
“Michael Porter, a strategy guru once said ‘the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.’ We should choose not to do what we know we’re not good at, so we don’t waste the time of others and ourselves,” read Chadchart’s post.
 
Chadchart was one of the most popular ministers in the Yingluck government. His fans called him “the strongest Transportation Minister on earth.” He proposed a 2bn baht high-speed train project but the Constitutional Court dismissed it. He usually travelled by public transportation and reviewed problems from a consumer perspective on his Facebook page.
 
But the image that gained him his “strong” reputation was a photo of him walking back from the market in the morning a sleeveless black vest and shorts, revealing an extraordinarily buffed body. This picture, like that of Chuck Norris, become a popular meme on the internet for a while.
 
His rejection of the junta’s offer is further proof that he is truly the “strongest minister on earth.”
 
 
A memefied Chatchart’s photo (Photo from Pantip)