Monday, June 11, 2012

Thailand’s Humpty Dumpty Court

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that’s all."
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

It’s a Humpty Dumpty Court when seven unscrupulous judges on Thailand’s Constitutional Court had to resort to inventing a new meaning to the word “and” in a desperate effort to block the democratically elected government from changing the junta-inspired 2007 Constitution, which is the key to maintaining power for the military/elite.

You see, it’s extremely important for military/elite to not have their precious constitution tampered with. It puts elected governments suffering at the whim of the military/elite. If they don't like the government then they can easily find a pretext to remove them. Their constitution itself makes parliamentary democracy weak and vulnerable… which why they introduced it in the first place.

However, the document that was foisted on the citizens (it was illegal to campaign against the “referendum” that brought in the new constitution while the junta poured millions into the "yes" campaign) was hastily written by people who had no business writing a constitution in the first place. But the junta had the foresight to know there would be times when their document just would not “work” for them. 

That’s where the junta-installed Constitutional Court judges come in. They would be the ones to interpret the statutes to mean whatever guaranteed a so-called “victory” for their masters. And these judges have been quite busy the last five years: throwing out one prime minister for cooking on TV, throwing out his successor and dissolving their political party to allow the Democrats to obtain power, dismissing the dissolution case of the Democrat party, disqualifying a Red Shirt MP because the Democrats threw him in jail without bail and no judge would release him to vote, etc… The list goes on and is quite impressive if one believes in judicial dictatorship.

The most recent brouhaha by the Constitutional Court revolves around the first sentence in paragraph 2 of Section 68 of Thailand's Constitution which reads:

“In the case where a person or a political party has committed the act under paragraph one, the person knowing of such act shall have the right to request the Attorney General to investigate the facts and submit a motion to the Constitutional Court for ordering cessation of such act without, however, prejudice to the institution of a criminal action against such person”.

Paragraph one, by the way, reads:

"No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution."

Paragraph 2 is an example of how poorly the Thai constitution was drafted linguistically. Technically both "the person" and "the Attorney General" could be the subjects of the verb submit. The question is:  should the sentence be read "the person knowing of such an act shall have the right to request… and submit..." or should it be understood that "the person" has only the right to request "the Attorney General" investigate while the verb "submit" belongs to "the Attorney General"?

Of course, it doesn't make any sense at all that the person aware of "wrong-doing" must make a request to the Attorney General and submit a motion to the court. This cannot possibly be what was intended and only paste-eating morons or die-hard royalists with a political agenda to stop any change to the constitution would think otherwise.
Meechai Ruchupan           Kaewsan Atibodhi
Paste-Eating Morons or Die-Hard Royalists
(or both)

Plus, it is doubtful that the five motions filed directly to the court were accompanied by requests from the same individuals for investigations to the Attorney General. So, in order to fix this and allow them to act, the judges changed the meaning of the word "and" to "either/or" effectively making the sentence read:

"In the case where a person or a political party has committed the act under paragraph one, the person knowing of such act shall have the right to either request the Attorney General to investigate the facts or submit a motion to the Constitutional Court for ordering cessation of such act without, however, prejudice to the institution of a criminal action against such person." 

But there’s another creative interpretation by these judges in that they view Parliament as "a person or political party". Of course, Parliament is obviously not regarded as "a person or political party" nor should they be. The Parliament is authorized by Section 291 of the Constitution to undertake charter amendment legislation.

Of course judicial decisions are supposed to be made based on the laws and precedents. However, these judges have thrown precedent out the window too as Kaewmala at Siam Voices points out:

“In May 2006, the Constitution Court rejected a petition by a former MP submitted under the same section in the previous constitution on the basis that Section 63 (which became Section 68 in the current constitution, containing the same text) did not allow the complainant to directly submit the petition to the Constitution Court. The Court then ruled that the petition must first be considered by the Attorney General. The rejected petition in 2006 was filed to request the Court to disband the Democrat Party.”

Judges take oaths to support the law as it is and not as they might prefer it to be. The bad eggs at the Constitutional court have substituted their own fascist opinions and ideas for the laws and precedents upon which judicial decisions are supposed to be made and are headed for a great fall; a fall so great that, like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put them back together again.

I say it’s high time to ‘break a few eggs’.  Figuratively not literally; no violence please - just impeach the bums.

Just as I suspected – there’s a whole lot of slimy yellow inside these eggs.

1 comment:

  1. The correct answer to photo #2 caption is "both"