Political decision: The rubber saplings corruption case

25 09 2009

Another historic court verdict in Thailand history: the Supreme Court Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found all 44 defendants (who served under Thaksin leadership) in the Bt1.44 billion rubber sapling project graft case not guilty. This shall stand to remind all the Thais of injustice and incredibility of our judiciary system: the lack of independence of members of the judiciary. It is a political rather than legal decision.

Newin who served as the former deputy agriculture minister and the 43 co-defendants were charged with corruption the procurement of 90 million rubber saplings for about 1.4 billion baht for farmers in the North and the Northeast. Let’s imagine if Newin did not switch side and he was loyal to Thaksin and Puea Thai Party, would the verdict still be read the way it did? Does his supporting role or mediating role in the current coalition government facilitate his corruption case?

Newin has played an important role in the current coalition. The injustice court verdict on rubber saplings case has brightened up a political prospect of a rising political star, Newin Chidchob, a de facto leader and a newly appointed headmaster of Bhumjaithai Party. Crying while giveing interview to the press won him the best actor award!

However, Newin and the other former executives of the disbanded parties still face another legal hurdle that is the five-year political ban imposed by the Constitution court. To be able to make a political come back, the constitution would need to be amended or amnesty bill be enacted. It is interesting and something to watch is whther the chater will be amended to facilitate his political ban? If the rubber sapling is the first example to show how the verdict will be read, it is not very difficult to predict the outcome of the online lottery case and the rest that involve Newin and his crews. It is a political case that ends with political decision.

Tension escalated at the Thai-Cambodian border

17 07 2008
Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

As can be expected, tension along the Thai-Cambodian border has escalated in the last few days. Yesterday, I learnt from the news report that 3 Thais were detailed and this morning news confirmed that they were already released. Although those 3 ordinary Thai citizens were released, it is claimed that a number of Thai soldiers are detained by the Cambodian soldiers.

Noppadol Pattama, former Foreign Minister, resigned on 14 July 2008

Noppadol Pattama, former Foreign Minister, resigned on 14 July 2008

The issue captured much of public attention after the former Foreign Minister Noppadol Pattama had already signed a joint communique with the Cambodian government on 18 June. The PAD and the Opposition Democrat Party used the issue to exert pressure on the government both inside and outside the parliament which had led Noppadol to tender his resignation – as a responsible party.

Using nationalism as a tool to exert pressure on the government can be easily understood – it is cheap and it always works, but who will be responsible for the consequences.

I had a chance to talk with a Cambodian colleague recently when we met in Bangkok. I asked “what is your opinion on the issue of Preah Vihear?”. She said Cambodian people are upset with the latest development and do not understand why Thai politicians have to politicise the issue further. Leaving the issue beyond politics and it may be solvable? May be, but I am not quite sure. Yet, I do agree with my colleague that politcising the issue has made it even more difficult to solve.

Both countries have different information background on this Hindu Temple. The Thais would argue that our government since King Rama the Fifth had never accepted the ruling of the International Court of Justice, the staircase leading to the temple itself is evidence. The Cambodian would rebut that the temple has all along belonged to Cambodia and the ruling of the international court ascertained it. While there can be no proved as to who is right and wrong, would not it be better to leave it as it has been. Now that the temple has been listed as a World Heritage, perhaps the Thai should also submit the request to list the surrounding areas as World Heritage as well.