Problems reflect lack of a neutral agency to maintain order
February 26, 2014 00:00
By Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Unless the law can be enforced, what is the reason for a nation to have the rule of law?
The current political conflict was supposed to settle within the legal framework from last year when the government, under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, decided to dissolve the House of Representative and called a snap election to assemble a new Cabinet to run the country.
Those who disliked the government’s policies, including the proposal of an amnesty bill, had the opportunity to install a new government and leaders they favoured.
Those who wanted to reform the country, including proposals to amend many laws as well as the charter, had a chance to test their ideas on the public and ask for a national mandate to do so.
Those who had a number of good ideas to run and develop their beloved country would also get the right to propose themselves as candidates in the election.
An election is the best forum for all conflicting parties to contest their proposals freely, fairly and peacefully.
The urban middle class protesters and allies in high society did not make the right choice, but pushed forward in an unconstitutional and undemocratic way to have non-elected legislative and executive branches administer the country.
Legally speaking, the idea to have a non-elected government run the country and a people’s council to make the laws is clearly against Article 68 of the current Constitution.
In its wording, the article says 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 not in accordance with the methods provided in this Constitution.”
The election is the only right and legitimate way to acquire the power to run the country and to constitutionally empower elected MPs to make laws. No single clause in the charter could apply to supporting a non-elected government.
In the case where a person or a political party has committed an act as mentioned above, “the person knowing of such an act shall have the right to request the Prosecutor General to investigate its facts and submit a motion to the Constitutional Court for ordering cessation of such an act without, however, prejudice to the
institution of a criminal action against such person”, it says.
Cases were brought before the Constitutional Court, but the judgement simply ruled that the anti-government protest was constitutional. Such a verdict set precedence for other court rulings that all actions – including disruption of an election, violence and procession of weapons – committed by the protesters were lawful.
Violence and street battles that have claimed nearly two dozen lives since the end of November loom over the capital and other cities and the trend is for them to increase.
The government and state agencies lack the power to enforce the law to keep peace and order, not only because they are part of the conflicting parties, but also because the judicial branch uses its authority to support the opposing side.
There is no neutral agency in Thailand to act as a state authority to maintain law and order.
The government, its ministries and police are on one side while the judicial, independent agencies including the Election Commission, are on the other.
The military tried to say it’s non-partisan but apparently at least some commanders favour the anti-government allies.
The rule of law is an unlikely option to solve the problem, so real and raw power is likely to.