Politics: Economist on Thailand’s Democrat Party’s “Party On”

The Economist, considered global best, is banned often in Thailand

Blog Note: Well, the Democrat Party was not disbanded, as the Thai court cited a technicality. The fact is, the exact same technicality exists in 3 other political parties that faced disbandment-but the same court axed them out of existence-and made no issue of the same technicality.

Then, top Thai bankers, just held a “Campaign Dinner” to discuss the future of Thailand, Matichon, a newspaper in Thailand, reported. At the dinner top Thai bankers proposed that “order” be bought back to Thailand-because if an election is held, it is likely that the opposition and the Red Shirts will come back to power. That coming back to power, would mean the Yellow Shirt, would go active with major protest again. And as Thai Intel reported, the current government of the Democrat Party, in fact supplied most of the Yellow Shirt protesters. To the top Thai bankers, that would mean Thailand would likely fall into “Dis-Order” again.

Matichon asked a simple question, “Does the top bankers mean order through Democratic Process, or other ways?” The other way, off course means a coup. Well, top Thai bankers are the most powerful people in Thailand. And obviously, an election is part of the democratic process. To say, an election result will ensure “Dis-Order” obviously, mean a rejection of the democratic process.

The bottom line is that it looks like one way or another, the Democrat Party, will be “partying on” for a long time into the future. One way, as the following Economist article says, is getting great court rulings.

The following is from Economist:

SINCE 2006, Thailand’s courts have been in the thick of the political drama: annulling elections, dissolving parties and barring politicians from holding office. On November 29th, it was the whole Democrat Party’s turn in the spotlight. Accused of electoral fraud during an election in 2005, the party faced the possibility of dissolution and the banning of its executives, including the prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, a deputy leader of the party at the time. But the final curtain was not to fall on Thailand’s oldest political party. Instead, the Constitutional Court acquitted the party in a 4-2 majority, citing a technical flaw in the prosecution’s case.

Its verdict eases the pressure on the Democrat Party and the six-party coalition it leads. But it only adds to the frustration of opponents who see social and political injustice around every corner. The red-shirted protesters—who took to the streets of Bangkok in April and May, resulting in violent clashes that left 91 dead—argue that “double standards” are at the root of Thailand’s instability. The rich and powerful write the rules and bend them to their interests. In particular, biased courts issue verdicts that suit the interests of a narrow royalist elite, or so ran the argument. By acquitting the pro-establishment Democrat Party, the Constitutional Court appeared to be following this playbook, as if doing its part to confirm the theory.

The case had been filed in April by the Election Commission (EC), which said it had found irregularities in the Democrat Party’s election expenditure. Two charges were filed; a second is still pending. The first concerned 29 billion baht of public funds that the Democrat Party had supposedly spent on election materials. The allegation was that the money had been misused. The party denied this and said that its political opponents had cooked up the case and pressured the EC to pursue it. For months, the court has considered arguments on both sides, and heard witnesses contradict each other in testimony about what happened to the money.

However, the final verdict did not decide the merits of these competing claims. Instead the court decided that the EC had not filed the charge within 15 days of its decision to prosecute, thereby invalidating the entire process. The second charge, of an illegal corporate donation, is still pending. It is not subject to the 15-day rule, but is thought to be weaker as there is less of a paper trail. The party has denied receiving any donation from TPI Polene, a petrochemical company.

The court has itself been in the spotlight of late. A series of embarrassing video recordings of judges released on YouTube have sparked lawsuits and police investigations. A video of a Democrat MP smooth-talking a secretary to the court’s president was bad enough. This was followed by recordings of judges who seemed to be discussing how to cover up dubious hiring practices at the court. So far, the court’s focus has been on finding and punishing the leakers. No judges have resigned to take responsibility. The Democrat MP, who was part of the party’s legal defence team, was given a slap on the wrist.

Mr Abhisit has been spared the inglorious fate of his two predecessors, who were both removed by the courts. One, the late Samak Sundaravej, was ousted in September 2008 for the crime of moonlighting as a TV chef. Three months later, the Constitutional Court dissolved three political parties for electoral fraud, paving the way for Mr Abhisit to take power with military backing. Thanks to the court’s latest ruling, he is still there.

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