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When the law is but a whore

29/12/2013

 

An interesting article by Khun Voranai. He is right that the absence of a rule of law is one reason for the present political violence and unrest in Thailand.

But we must ask the question, “How has Thailand got into the position where laws are openly flaunted?”

One clue is found when we ask who benefits from it. Voranai has given a fair and balanced picture. He has taken no sides in his attempts to analyse what is happening on our streets today. As he says, each political party has at different times used this attitude to the law to its individual advantage.

However, there is more to it than that. Take a look at this excellent unbiased writing. Tomorrow, I will give my own analysis of WHY cultural and embedded social attitudes and thinking have contributed to the Thai’s dilemma of both wanting and notwanting democracy in their land.

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“As the protest in the streets reaches a new violent level, let’s not forget one important factor that got Thailand into this mess in the first place. This is the disrespect for the rule of law and the exploitation of it.

A week ago, Kanit Na Nakorn, the former chairman of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC), suggested that attorney-general Atthapol Yaisawang withdraw all terrorism cases against leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), saying the cases will have negative impacts on national security.

Perhaps Mr Kanit should look at the bigger picture and consider that letting alleged wrongdoers get away with crimes is a threat to national security. On the other hand, charging and prosecuting alleged wrongdoers is in fact to protect national security.

Without the rule of law, there is no national security. For that matter, without the rule of law, society would fall apart. In 2010, it was the Pheu Thai Party and the UDD who flouted the rule of law to achieve their political goals. It was the then Democrat government and its supporters who cried for the rule of law. Today, the situation is in complete reverse, showing hypocrisy on both ends.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the PAD who were charged with terrorism for instigating the storming of Government House and the illegal occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport are still at large, after half a decade.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the UDD charged with terrorism for instigating the bombing and burning of Bangkok and provincial city halls are still at large after some three years and many enjoy government posts. Meanwhile, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban, both up on murder charges, are still at large and leading mass protests. In addition, Mr Suthep has also been charged with insurrection, but is still flouting the rule of law and getting away with it.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the charges against all the people mentioned above, one has to pause and think, given that they all have been charged with such grave crimes, how are they still out and about, holding ministry posts or leading rallies?

But then again, it all rather makes sense, doesn’t it? The rule of law here has always been a negotiable matter, to be bargained and bought, exploited and manipulated. Often times, it is also completely ignored and trampled upon. This is done from the politicians to the police to the military and to the ordinary people. Put all of this on one plate and add on everything else we know to be true as we live each day in Thailand, from the most powerful in society to the least powerful, the questions to ask are these: Is it any wonder that the people cheer as Mr Suthep wants to put aside electoral democracy and the Democrats boycott the general election? Is it any wonder that people champion and vote for nominees, puppets and clones of a man convicted of corruption, while ministers and bureaucrats fly overseas to seek blessings, favours and postings _ and try to give him an amnesty?

Is it any wonder that in a space of three years, the two rival political factions could so easily change their tunes in regard to the rule of law in order to serve their political agenda? Is it any wonder that hardcore supporters on both sides believe they can run amok and commit violence with impunity? Is it any wonder that we have had 23 military coups in the 80 years of so-called Thai democracy and are still not quite certain if there will be another one? Is it any wonder that Thailand suffers another round of death and destruction, and if it escalates, accusations of ”murderers” and ”terrorists” will be thrown in reverse? If Thailand is to come undone at the seams because both sides of the political divide prostitute the law, in fact make a whore of the law, is it any wonder?

So before we talk of reforms and elections, let’s start first by doing that simple, yet difficult, thing: follow the rule of law. And if one believes a piece of law is unjust, change it according to the democratic process.

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