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On The Brink: Ten Point Summary Of Constitutional Court Mess


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Today's Bangkok Post reports on the current status here, but it can be summarized as follows:

 

1. An unelected Constitutional Court, which was appointed by a body established by the 2006 coup, enjoins an elected Parliament from acting on proposed legislation.

 

2. The application for this injunction was not made by the Attorney General, but by private parties. The Attorney General says there is no legal basis for seeking an injunction. Previously, in a case against the Democrats, the Constitutional Court ruled that private parties could not file applications to enjoin the Parliament. But this time, without referencing any facts in its order, the Constitutional Court ignored prior precedent and allowed a private parties to not only apply for but obtain an injunction. Private parties in Thailand - well, at least some private parties - apparently now the ability to seek and obtain orders stopping (enjoining) elected Parliaments from even considering legislation. Coincidentally, this time the PT rather than Democrats control the Parliament.

 

3. The Constitutional Court did not enjoin the enactment of any law. The process has not even reached that stage. Its proposed legislation: a bill. Instead, the Constitutional Court enjoined the Parliament from even considering this bill. This bill may or may not be enacted or changed before its enacted. I don't know of any jurisdiction where you can prevent an elected Parliament from even considering a bill, but maybe there is one (North Korea?). As far as I can determine, everywhere else in the world where they have an elected legislature, constitutional challenges can only be launched after the bill is enacted. But if anyone knows of any exception, please identify it.

 

4. The Constitutional Court did not and still has not pointed to any provision of the proposed legislation to justify its injunction against the Parliament in its order. Instead, it claims, without citing any evidence in its order, that the bill constituted a serious and imminent risk to the constitutional monarchy. And yes, the standard practice to refer to at least some evidence even when granting an emergency injunction. Otherwise an applicant could enjoin Parliament or any other body of the government by asserting that it threatens the constitutional monarchy without referencing any facts to back up this claim.

 

5. If enacted, the bill will not change the constitution. Instead, it will set up a process for changing the constitution. What do we know about this change? Well, PT and its predecessor parties have consistently said they want a new constitution enacted by a vote of the people. They have also consistently said they want a fully elected senate rather one than the partially appointed Senate that Thailand has now. The President of the Constitutional Court and other parties directly or indirectly put in office by the leaders of the 2006 coup are involved in the selection of appointed senators.

 

6. The bill includes stronger protections for the constitutional monarchy than the existing constitution.

 

7. Notwithstanding this, the constitutional court says it intends to determine if this bill might somehow ultimately lead to a change of the constitution that threatens the constitutional monarchy by divining the real motive of the legislators who will vote on this bill. It will do so through ESP and consulting with a reliable maa doo (witch doctor). Seriously, it says it will do by reviewing written statements the legislators are ordered to submit to the Court. It also intends to call the MPs as witnesses to explain why they want to change a constitution that was put in place following a military junta.

 

8. The Democrats, who enjoy support from the military and old line establishment, but have difficulty winning elections, are pressing for this injunction. Many of them claim if the injunction is granted, the opposition party must be dissolved.

 

9. The opposition party has been dissolved before on various grounds that some claim are questionable (a PM hosting a cooking show), but every time it has been dissolved it has been able to re-form and, except in one instance, win Parliamentary elections.

 

10. This country has been wracked with violent demonstrations were protestors have claimed, among other things, that the government they elected was ousted in a series of judicial coups.

 

See where this is heading? This is like playing with matches when you are in a room filled with gasoline up to your knees.

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Somsak slammed over comments

 

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, the ex-officio parliament president, has come under strong criticism as an audio clip of comments he made at a meeting with red-shirt leaders is made public by the Democrat Party.

 

The party said Mr Somsak's speech, as heard on the clip, was an admission that he had allowed parliament to become the political tool of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

 

The voice clip, claimed to be Mr Somsak's speech to core party members from Khon Kaen province at his birthday party in Phetchabun province on June 27, was released to reporters by Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasak.

 

In the speech, Mr Somsak talked about the Pheu Thai Party's decision to back away from the vote on the third reading of the charter amendment bill and the growing likelihood that the reconciliation bills will be withdrawn from parliament.

 

Mr Somsak said he was the person who talked former Thaksin into backing off in order to safeguard Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and keep a firm grip of state power, which could then be used against his opponents. :hmmm:

 

Mr Chavanond said the clip was 26 minutes long, but he ran only the first five minutes of it for the reporters to hear.

 

He said what Mr Somsak said was tantamount to admitting that Pheu Thai and the government, as well as the parliament president, were under Thaksin's command on every matter, including the charter amendment bill and reconciliation bills.

 

The Democrat spokesman said he wanted the people to know that the government did not have an intention to hold the country's administration for the people's interests but for Thaksin only.

 

He called for Mr Somsak to clarify this matter. If it was really his voice, Mr Somsak was no longer suitable for the post of parliament president, he added.

 

Mr Chavanond also called for Ms Yingluck to show responsibility and admit the fact that she was only her elder brother's puppet.

 

He said he would consult the party's legal team to see if the clip could be used to seek the removal of Mr Somsak.

 

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, in response to Mr Chavanond, said what was heard on the clip was in fact only an expression of political opinion.

 

"The party's senior figures have learned about this. They are not worried and see it as not unusual. The parliament president is a politician who can talk politics and express his opinion.

 

"He (Mr Somsak) is a neutral person who understands that the Pheu Thai Party allows its members to talk and exchange opinions, but parliament and party members can make their own judgement.

 

"The opposition should stop using this to further play a political game. Mr Somsak has explained that it was a normal discussion and he did not tell anyone what to do," Mr Prompong said.

 

Democrat Party MP Boonyod Sukthinthai called for Mr Somsak to resign as parliament president.

 

The Democrat Party would file a petition to the House ethics committee to investigate Mr Somsak, he said.

 

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Somsak slammed over comments

 

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, the ex-officio parliament president, has come under strong criticism as an audio clip of comments he made at a meeting with red-shirt leaders is made public by the Democrat Party.

 

The party said Mr Somsak's speech, as heard on the clip, was an admission that he had allowed parliament to become the political tool of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

 

The voice clip, claimed to be Mr Somsak's speech to core party members from Khon Kaen province at his birthday party in Phetchabun province on June 27, was released to reporters by Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasak.

 

In the speech, Mr Somsak talked about the Pheu Thai Party's decision to back away from the vote on the third reading of the charter amendment bill and the growing likelihood that the reconciliation bills will be withdrawn from parliament.

 

Mr Somsak said he was the person who talked former Thaksin into backing off in order to safeguard Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and keep a firm grip of state power, which could then be used against his opponents. :hmmm:

 

Mr Chavanond said the clip was 26 minutes long, but he ran only the first five minutes of it for the reporters to hear.

 

He said what Mr Somsak said was tantamount to admitting that Pheu Thai and the government, as well as the parliament president, were under Thaksin's command on every matter, including the charter amendment bill and reconciliation bills.

 

The Democrat spokesman said he wanted the people to know that the government did not have an intention to hold the country's administration for the people's interests but for Thaksin only.

 

He called for Mr Somsak to clarify this matter. If it was really his voice, Mr Somsak was no longer suitable for the post of parliament president, he added.

 

Mr Chavanond also called for Ms Yingluck to show responsibility and admit the fact that she was only her elder brother's puppet.

 

He said he would consult the party's legal team to see if the clip could be used to seek the removal of Mr Somsak.

 

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit, in response to Mr Chavanond, said what was heard on the clip was in fact only an expression of political opinion.

 

"The party's senior figures have learned about this. They are not worried and see it as not unusual. The parliament president is a politician who can talk politics and express his opinion.

 

"He (Mr Somsak) is a neutral person who understands that the Pheu Thai Party allows its members to talk and exchange opinions, but parliament and party members can make their own judgement.

 

"The opposition should stop using this to further play a political game. Mr Somsak has explained that it was a normal discussion and he did not tell anyone what to do," Mr Prompong said.

 

Democrat Party MP Boonyod Sukthinthai called for Mr Somsak to resign as parliament president.

 

The Democrat Party would file a petition to the House ethics committee to investigate Mr Somsak, he said.

 

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If true, interesting, but I thought the injunction was issued because it allegedly threatened the constitutional monarchy. Whether or not it benefits Thaksin is totally irrelevant. I wonder if the plan is to try to slur the two issues together?

 

These really are two different issues, unless the Democrats are saying support for Thaksin itself constitutes a threat to the constitutional monarchy. I don't think the rural masses will be persuaded: most seem to support the King and Thaksin.

 

Is the court tries to slur support for Thaksin together with a threat to the King together? If they do, I don't think the PT base, which is the majority, will buy it. And if it does, the constitutional court can no longer claim it is neutral party. It comes out of this looking like a totally politicized entity supporting one side (the Democrats and yellows) in this fight.

 

Perhaps that is the ultimate plan of Mr. T. Totally de-legitimize the courts so they can no longer interfere with his plans? Here, an adverse decision against the amendments will likely substantially de-legitimize the constitutional court, unless they can come up with something concrete about a threat to the constitutional monarchy. If they had something, you would have expected them to reveal it by now.

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I don't think the T-man threatens the monarchy. But he does want to make himself almost a pseudo-monarch and has visions of grandeur. In this he is like Pibunsongkram in the 1940s, who even wanted to move the capital away from Bangkok. Have you read about the proposal to build a Formula 1 circuit in Chiang Mai? Now who do you suppose came up with that idea?

 

p.s. Ironically, when Thaksin first became PM, a taxi driver went on to me about how terrible his election was. He said Thaksin would be another Pibun and had already said he wanted to be PM for ten years.

 

 

 

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Somsak had charter talk with 'person far away'

 

 

The Pheu Thai Party's spokesman has confirmed that Parliament President Somsak Kiatsuranont said he had discussed with "a person far away" the charter amendment and reconciliation bills in a secretly-taped audio recording.

 

Mr Somsak was heard in the recording, broadcast on Tuesday on satellite channel Blue Sky, addressing his supporters in Phetchabun at a private meeting.

 

In the audio clip, Mr Somsak allegedly said he had talked the "person far away" into agreeing not to push for debate on the controversial reconciliation bill in parliament to avoid public opposition.

 

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said it was a normal conversation over political matters between Mr Somsak and about 50 close aides.

 

The Pheu Thai senior members were aware of the clip and had no problem with it.

 

"Mr Somsak informed [the party] that it was a casual discussion and he was merely expressing his views. He had no intention of influencing politics," Mr Prompong said. :applause:

 

The Pheu Thai spokesman dismissed the Democrat Party's demand that Mr Somsak, also the Pheu Thai MP for Khon Kaen, resign as parliament president to take responsibility for his comments.

 

He said Mr Somsak was voicing his own opinion and that he was not speaking in his capacity as House speaker.

 

Mr Prompong said the release of the clip appeared to be timed to coincide with the Constitution Court's hearing on the legality of the charter amendment bill scheduled for today and tomorrow.

 

Democrat list MP Boonyod Sooktinthai yesterday demanded Mr Somsak step down as House speaker.

 

The opposition member said the audio clip showed that Mr Somsak, as the head of parliament, served ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

 

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the clip was testament to how Thaksin influences the government.

 

Mr Abhisit urged Mr Somsak to act with neutrality as head of the legislative branch. He said the content of the clip mainly concerned Thaksin's interests.

 

He admitted in the recording that the charter amendment and reconciliation bills could spark political conflicts.

 

Opponents view the push to pass the two bills as an effort to whitewash Thaksin's wrongdoings and pave the way for his comfortable return to Thailand.

 

The former prime minister left the country just before the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison for conflict of interest in his ex-wife's purchase of a state-owned land plot in Bangkok about a decade ago

 

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'Let our opponents declare war, that's not our doing'

 

Democrats say the following transcript of an audio recording, broadcast on Tuesday on Blue Sky satellite channel, is House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont, talking about the charter amendment and reconciliation bills to key supporters in Phetchabun on June 27.

 

"What I'm about to say only we have the privilege to hear. Even the MPs don't know this. Of everyone, I've talked most often with the person living far away. :xmassmile

 

When I asked to not go ahead with the third reading [of the charter amendment bill] he wouldn't listen. He didn't yell but he didn't listen. :angryfire:

 

"So I told him that in all the time we've known each other, I have analysed various political issues. Was there any issue that didn't turn out the way I analysed? He became quiet and listened. :hmmm:

 

"But as I was explaining, he tried to slide away. And when I finished my sentence, he gave no response. :angry:

 

"Do you know what my most important line was? It was when I told him the Pheu Thai Party's direction, as it always had been, was right. The strategy is not to play the king [in a chess game] unless it is necessary. It needs to keep the prime minister out [of sticky situations]. :yikes:

 

"The prime minister has stressed that everything is the business of the parliament. The charter is the business of parliament and so is the reconciliation bill and the third reading process.

 

"The prime minister did the right thing. It was right to pass the hot potato to me. What were they thinking, yanking the hot potato from my hand? What was he thinking, I asked.

 

"He was quiet. So I suggested we talk among our own people first. I called Khun Daeng Yaowapa. Before that, I spoke to former premier Somchai. I convinced him and he finally agreed.

 

"Two hours later, former premier Somchai phoned to say the party was holding its strategy committee and that Thaksin would skype in to the session. :worship:

 

"At the meeting the next day, the person far away did all the talking and used the reasons I gave him to influence the members before deciding whether the third reading should press ahead. :elf:

 

"To this minute, the Pheu Thai Party's strategy has followed those reasons.

 

"The next task is to avoid deliberating the reconciliation bill in parliament. I have repeated this 10,000 times to the person far away.

 

"I said to him he has endured so much for five years. What does another three to six months matter? On Aug 1, the reconciliation bill should be withdrawn and put up for public discussion in every square inch of the country.

 

"The state-run media outlets will publicise it and the population will be the shield protecting us. It will take three to six months, then the reconciliation bill will be returned to parliament.

 

"Let our opponents declare war, that's not our doing. We should keep in our hands the power to run the state, and proceed slowly." :deal:

 

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A foreigner whom I trust, and who has very good insight into the political situation here (and who is fluent in Thai) has suggested to me that for the first time in his long tenure in Thailand, there are now four different factions jockeying for position. According to him, the PT/Reds are not monolithic - they are split among two factions. My friend's "back on the napkin" assessment of the four factions:

 

1. TS + 40% of the government (from N and NE) + Half the UDD/Redshirts + Police

 

2. 10% of the Army + PAD/Yellows + Dems + 25% government (with support of [Let's not got there - KS])

 

3. 60% of the Army + 20% of government + Half the Redshirts - led by retired Army

 

4. 30% of Army (including all/most the Spec Opns) + 15% of government - led by retired Spec Ops + Retired AF

 

He said that the first three groups are all just out to plunder from the trough. Group #4 is the only group that "supports legal transfer and are a strong professional grouping that want a law-abiding, fair system, for all good people", as he put it.

 

He think that Group 2 is becoming sidelined and irrelevant - even though they are making a lot of noise. He thinks that Group 4 holds the real balance of power, and is working to "peel away" more altruistic elements from Groups 1 and 3.

 

If he is on the right track, it will be interesting to see how things play out. The concept that there would be a Group 3, not in bed with Group 1, would in particular surprise me.

 

 

Cheers!

SS

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A foreigner whom I trust, and who has very good insight into the political situation here (and who is fluent in Thai) has suggested to me that for the first time in his long tenure in Thailand, there are now four different factions jockeying for position. According to him, the PT/Reds are not monolithic - they are split among two factions. My friend's "back on the napkin" assessment of the four factions:

 

1. TS + 40% of the government (from N and NE) + Half the UDD/Redshirts + Police

 

2. 10% of the Army + PAD/Yellows + Dems + 25% government (with support of [Let's not got there - KS])

 

3. 60% of the Army + 20% of government + Half the Redshirts - led by retired Army

 

4. 30% of Army (including all/most the Spec Opns) + 15% of government - led by retired Spec Ops + Retired AF

 

 

Even though I can't comment on the value of your friends analysis, I find it very interesting, that it paints a much more complicated picture than we are used to (like red versus yellow).

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1. TS + 40% of the government (from N and NE) + Half the UDD/Redshirts + Police

 

2. 10% of the Army + PAD/Yellows + Dems + 25% government (with support of [Let's not got there - KS])

 

3. 60% of the Army + 20% of government + Half the Redshirts - led by retired Army

 

4. 30% of Army (including all/most the Spec Opns) + 15% of government - led by retired Spec Ops + Retired AF

what does he mean by "government"? The ministers assigned by Yingluck or the officials in the ministries? I think there is a big difference!

there are some other influential persons which you have not mentioned

also not sure whether you can just put PAD and the Dems in one pot

 

not sure whether there are 3 or 4 or 5 factions, but certainly they are not static and things can move and change fast. Thai politicians and other powerful persons are famous for changing totally opposite factions overnight...

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