Joint Communique on Preah Vihear: violation of constitution???

29 09 2009

The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) is going to make a decision on the Preah Vihear case today whether to indict 36 people including ministers of the Samak Sundaravej cabinet and state officials charged in connection with the cabinet approval on June 17 l2008 for Thailand to sign a joint communique with Cambodia without seeking advice from parliament. However, before making any prediction on the outcome, it is important to note that the Constitution Court had earlier ruled that the Preah Vihear joint communique was endorsed by the Samak cabinet in violation of the Constitution.

The joint communique was to support Cambodia’s application to list the ancient Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site. The NACC on Nov 13 2008 decided to press charges against the Samak cabinet members, except four who were absent, for negligence of duty and violation of Article 190 of the 2007 Constitution, and certain state officials for malfeasance. Of the 36, four are members of the current government. They are Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart, Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Pattaraprasit, Information and Communication Technology Minister Ranongrak Suwanchawee, and Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul.

The decision of today is likely to have an impact on the credibility of the Prime Minister and the Military. Democrat Party and its current Foreign Minister claimed that by signing the Joint Communique Samak government had given up certain Thai territories to Cambodia.  This is similar to the constitutional court decision. I would like to think that NCCC’s decision will go in the same direction IF some of the defendants are not holding positions in the current coalition government.

If they decide that it does not violate the constitution then the decision made by NCCC will overrule the constitutional court decision. It will also tarnish the government credibility since the Prime Minister has insisted until today that Thailand has not lost any territory to Cambodia. It is another interesting day in Thai politics.